Communities throughout the state face real and different water challenges
Water is vital, yet communities throughout the state regularly face challenges such as algae blooms, failing septic tanks, nutrient pollution, and threats of lead contamination.
Harmful Algal Blooms
Although most blooms on Ohio’s lakes and reservoirs are green algae and not harmful, there are some that have the ability to produce toxins called harmful algal blooms (HABs). More info on HABs can be found at the Ohio EPA. In addition, the state published recreational advisories for HABs at the Ohio Department of Health.
Nutrient pollution is caused by too much nitrogen and phosphorus in waterways. Nutrients are elements that all living organisms need to grow, however too much in the water can contribute to harmful algal blooms, as well as other issues. More information on nutrient pollution and how the state is addressing the issue can be found at the Ohio EPA and the Ohio Lake Erie Commission.
Failing Septic Systems
Septic systems treat wastewater from household plumbing fixtures (toilet, shower, laundry, etc.) through both natural and technological processes, typically beginning with solids settling in a septic tank, and ending with wastewater treatment in the soil via the drain field. Most septic systems fail because of inappropriate design or poor maintenance. These conditions can cause hydraulic failures and contamination of nearby water sources. The most serious documented problems involve contamination of surface waters and groundwater with disease-causing pathogens and nitrates. Other problems include excessive nutrient discharges into sensitive waters, which increases algal growth and lowers dissolved oxygen levels. More information on sewage treatment systems can be found at the Ohio EPA.
Lead is a toxic metal that can be harmful to human health even at low exposure levels. It can enter drinking water when plumbing materials that contain lead corrode, especially where the water has high acidity or low mineral content that corrodes pipes and fixtures. The most common sources of lead in drinking water are lead pipes, faucets, and fixtures. Lead is persistent, and it can bioaccumulate in the body over time causing physical and behavioral effects especially in pregnant women, infants, and young children. In children, low levels of exposure have been linked to damage to the central and peripheral nervous system, learning disabilities, shorter stature, impaired hearing, and impaired formation and function of blood cells. More information on lead can be found at the Ohio EPA.