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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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Oregon, which was unaffected by the three day tap water ban in Toledo last August, is nonetheless upgrading its water treatment plant to improve water quality.

The water source for Toledo’s and Oregon’s water treatment plants is Lake Erie’s Western Basin, which has been plagued by large blue green algal blooms for years. The raw water intake for each community is about a mile apart. The city wants to stay ahead of the curve and not be put in the position Toledo found itself in last August.

Last September, city council approved a $295,000 contract with ARCADIS, US Inc., for additional design engineering services for raw water treatment improvements for the water treatment plant.

Water treatment plants typically use activated carbon to treat algae. Oregon plans a $13 million upgrade that will add the use of ozone in the pretreatment process that is very effective in treating microcystin, the toxic algae that caused the water crisis in Toledo.

“It would be the most cost-effective in combination with active carbon to keep us in a situation where we could control the destiny of whatever is in the lake,” said Mayor Mike Seferian.

“Ozone is more efficient,” said Public Service Director Paul Roman. “It definitely kills algae.”

Ozone also reduces the use of chlorine and its byproduct, trihalomethane (THM), an environmental pollutant, in the treatment process. Chlorine is used to treat elevated levels of algae toxins, such as microcystin, in the drinking water. When chemical disinfectants such as chlorine react with organic material in the water, new compounds known as Disinfection Byproducts (DBP’s) are formed. Trihalomethane is a DBP. Ingesting high levels of trihalomethane over time can cause liver, kidney, and central nervous system problems. It can also pose an increased risk of cancer.

126Water3
These volunteers from Summerfield Township Volunteer Fire Department
in Petersburg Michigan as well as firefighters from the city of Oregon
donated water to East Toledo residents during the August water crisis.
(Press file photo by Stephanie Szozda)

Last September, Oregon issued a drinking water notice to all of its water customers after a water sample showed trihalomethane above the drinking water standard. It was the first time the city had exceeded the standard. Roman chalked up the problem to the addition of more chlorine to fight the algae toxins in the months of August and September.

The city did not recommend using an alternative water supply, such as bottled water, because it was still safe to drink. It can become a health issue if the level remains high over time.

Other communities along the lake have also switched to ozone, such as Carroll Township in Ottawa County, which had a drinking water ban in 2010 after a water sample detected a high level of microcystin.

The city expects designs to be completed in 2015, and will bid the project in the fall. Construction will begin in the middle of 2016.

“The equipment is quite large,” said Roman. “To some degree, it needs its own building.”

The upgrade also calls for modification of filters to provide proper filtration with the ozone, he added.

Oregon has spent years updating and expanding its water treatment plant.

From 1999 to 2004, the city doubled the capacity at the plant. It took five years to construct in five different phases. The city made investments in low service pump stations, where the raw water comes in.

“We’ve made a lot of improvements. We have invested in our water infrastructure,” said Roman.

Oregon, which provides water for several communities in Northwest Ohio, bought its own testing equipment in 2010 to get quicker results of laboratory analysis conducted on both raw and treated water. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency had previously conducted the tests for the city, which took about four days to complete. The city didn’t think that was sufficient time to be able to adjust its treatment should it be needed. Oregon’s own testing now takes about five hours.


Ditches
The city has implemented “green infrastructure” enhancements, such as the Big Ditch improvement and the Oregon Flood Relief and Erosion Control projects, to reduce phosphorus getting into the lake.

Both projects included the widening of ditches or streams to purposefully reduce the water’s flow velocity and allow suspended sediment to settle out before discharging to the lake, according to Roman.

Phosphorus and other nutrients, which typically attach to the sediment, are then absorbed by wetland plantings located along the bottom of the streams.

The city also has implemented two new green infrastructure projects within the last year.

The Wolf Creek Riparian Restoration project, a joint project with the University of Toledo, created over 900 linear feet of an enhanced floodplain stream corridor along Wolf Creek, near the city’s water treatment plant. Flood plain restoration includes the planting of native trees and wetland plugs on the site, which will be finished this spring. The project is in conjunction with the University of Toledo’s constructed subsurface wetland project at Maumee Bay State Park. Water test results from the city’s new sedimentation pond on Wolf Creek, which is part of the enhanced flood plain stream corridor located upstream of Maumee Bay State Park, is already showing reductions in sediment and dissolved phosphorus.

The Oregon Bioretention Demonstration, which was completed last fall, included the installation of 4,950 square feet of bioretention cells to treat storm water from parking lot runoff. The project is a demonstration that was funded by an Ohio EPA Surface Water Improvement grant. Biorention cells contain native plants and an engineered soil mix to mimic natural environments, such as wetlands and wet prairies, to improve water quality. The project treats parking lot runoff from 1.7 acres of impervious surfaces.

 

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