Increasingly, drinking water treatment plants are challenged by changes in the quality of their source waters and by their aging treatment and distribution infrastructure. Individually or in combination, factors such as decreasing water and financial resources, climate change, agricultural runoff, harmful algal blooms and landscape development increase the probability that pesticides, pharmaceuticals, personal care products, endocrine disrupting compounds, algal toxins and other contaminants of emerging concern will remain after treatment, ending up in drinking water.
In cooperation with public water utilities along Lake Erie, EPA ORD is conducting studies to improve our understanding of the propagation of contaminants of emerging concern (particularly cyanotoxins) through the drinking water treatment process, and to identify the best approaches for removing them. The recent sampling campaign provided a unique opportunity to conduct an intensive, highly detailed analysis of the cyanobacterial bloom and its associated toxins in Lake Erie. That work allowed EPA researchers to provide utilities and regulators with technical and other recommendations to help them make better informed, long-term decisions regarding water treatment operations and modifications in the face of harmful algal blooms.
“Ohio and EPA ORD continue to lead the Nation in working with public water systems to ensure safe drinking water and minimize the threat of harmful algal blooms (HABs) and other emerging contaminants,” said Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler. “Research that EPA ORD is doing is providing Ohio with immediate and practical information as we implement first in the Nation rules on HABs, and we are grateful and fortunate and thankful for the collaboration on these important issues.”