Norwalk, NORW officials say they didn't get any complaints

Cary Ashby • Aug 5, 2014 at 8:53 AM

As the ban of consuming water in the Toledo area has been lifted, local officials are saying Norwalk-area residents had nothing to fear.

Rick Schaffer, chief operator at the Norwalk water treatment plant, said Norwalk-area residents get their water from the reservoir system, which holds rain water and is processed at the plant.

"The first reservoir was built in the late 1800s," he said.

Schaffer said Norwalk water officials won't have to do any additional testing. While he said the city always tests for algae, he noted that "the guys at Lake Erie don't have the luxury of testing the lake for algae."

On Monday morning, Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins announced during a news conference that all tests in the city showed non-detectable levels of the toxin microcystin. That means a ban of consumption of the water that had been in place since early Saturday morning was lifted.

"Our water is safe," Collins said, according to The (Toledo) Blade.

To demonstrate his confidence, the mayor finished the news conference by drinking a cup of Toledo water.

"Here's to you Toledo; you did a great job," Collins said.

Toledo officials said the cost of dealing with the crisis was high, but they didn't know a dollar amount yet, according to the Blade.

Schaffer was asked if anybody in the Norwalk area had called about the Toledo water situation.

"Nobody had called us directly at the plant that I know of," he said.

Earlier Saturday, state officials warned residents in Toledo and surrounding areas not to drink, or even boil, the water tainted with microcystin, a toxin possibly caused by an algae bloom in Lake Erie that can cause nausea and impair liver function. While the chemical is rarely fatal to humans and more likely to kill animals and plant life, officials said residents of the affected counties should use the water only to bathe or wash their hands.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich declared a state of emergency for residents of Lucas, Wood and Fulton counties early Saturday.

News of the contaminated water spread quickly, sending many of Toledo's 280,000 residents flocking to Toledo shopping areas, neighboring cities and in some cases, north to Michigan, in search of fresh water.

Local Rite Aid manager Linda Collins said the store sold 100 cases of water Saturday and sold out of its least expensive water.

Bryan Puder, distribution superintendent at Northern Ohio Rural Water, said the agency had received a few calls from people who asked where NORW obtains its water, but there hadn't been any complaints. He said NORW gets water from five different sources, which include Lorain, Elyria and Sandusky, and there had been no problems with their water. NORW covers Huron, Sandusky, Crawford and Seneca counties.

On average, Norwalk gets about 7 percent of its water from NORW over the course of a year, Schaffer said.

"Not all the water comes from the res. A little bit of it comes from them," he added.

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