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Ohio River's Huge Algae Bloom a Warning for Water Suppliers
A toxic algae outbreak that snaked more than 600 miles down the Ohio River past four states is forcing water utilities to reassess the threat from harmful algal blooms that are popping up increasingly around the nation.

Treatment plant operators and researchers along the river were surprised by the large bloom and said it should be a warning to cities that get their water supply from lakes, rivers and manmade reservoirs.

This year, toxins produced by the algae didn't contaminate any municipal supplies along the river, which provides drinking water to about 5 million people. But utilities did spend more money to fight off the toxins that can cause rashes, diarrhea, vomiting and breathing difficulty.

Cincinnati spent $7,700 more per day in much of September to add chemicals to tap water. And the company that provides water to Huntington, West Virginia, brought in new testing equipment and temporary pumps and pipes just in case it needed to draw from another river.

Researchers say conditions this year were just right for the outbreak: Heavy rains in the early summer washed algae-feeding pollutants into the river, and a dry late-summer slowed down the currents.


 
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Farmers will Help Offset Utilities Pollution Problems - Faced with a planned federal mandate to cut water pollution from power plants, American Electric Power and other utility companies might simply pay farmers to the job for them.


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