MAWSS taking algae blooms seriously

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) – The Mobile Area Water and Sewer System been keeping an eye on the disaster in Toledo and refining procedures to make sure nothing like a toxic algae bloom could happen here.

Toledo, Ohio residents spent last weekend without safe drinking water after a toxic algae bloom contaminated their water. The bloom was caused by excess nitrates and sulfates in the water from agricultural runoff. It left 400,000 people without safe drinking water until it was cleared up Monday, August 4.

Nightmare Scenario

“The incident in Toledo is obviously a water utilities worst nightmare,” said Les Brown with MAWSS.

Brown told us utility companies have taken notice of the Toledo disaster. Open reservoirs, like Mobile’s Big Creek Lake, are vulnerable to what’s dumped in them.

“It’s always a concern. Absolutely,” Brown said. “And we continue to spend money to improve and protect our water source. We’ve experienced excellent water quality for over 60 years.”

“Buffer Zones” Provide Protection

Brown said buying buffer zones of land around the lake has helped keep agricultural runoff from causing problems. Even so, after the Toledo incident, there is a new level of awareness of a worst case scenario.

“We did check on some of the procedures you can put in place and implement, as well as read about the potential treatment schemes would be and fortunately we have some of those already implemented,” Brown told us.

Brown said if the worst ever happened and an algae bloom occurred on Big Creek lake there are ways to fight it with powdered carbon and oxidation, but always the best defense will be to make sure it never happens in the first place.

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