DC area water monitored for algae bloom

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Water managers across the D.C. area have been keeping a close eye on the situation in Toledo, where a water ban had hundreds of thousands of people scrambling for drinking water.

Monday was a spectacular day on Rocky Gorge Rocky Reservoir on the Patuxent River, which provides about 1/3 of the water to hundreds of thousands of people in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties.

Water managers say it's not likely that this reservoir, nor any of the other water sources in the D.C. region, could be suffocated by the kind of intense algae bloom that left hundreds of thousands of people in Ohio in Michigan without drinkable water.

But that doesn't keep them from worrying.

"Our source water should be of primary concern to everyone. There's just an issue of what -- there's only so much contaminants that can get into a body of water before there's an issue for everybody."

Lake Erie has been hammered by phosphorous runoff from farm fields. The fertilizer feeds the blue green algae, which sucks up oxygen and produces the toxin microcystine. Lake Erie is far from the only place with an algae problem.

"Pollution from farms, from fertilizer runoff has been causing great problems in the Chesapeake Bay, in Florida, in Toledo and we're going to continue to see these kind of problems until we can enact real controls on our non-point source pollution

The WSSC test daily for signs of algae, even if it's not producing toxins. It can make the water smell or taste bad. So far, no trouble this summer.

Water companies around the region are working on a plan that would allow them to borrow from each other should any one of them have a problem.


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