Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - On Monday, Toledo Mayor Michael Collins lifted the Ohio city's ban on drinking water after algae blooms in Lake Erie contaminated it.
Is Buffalo in danger of experiencing a similar problem in the future?
"We have to remember, there's a difference between some of the bacterial issues that will close a beach, and what can then be taken care of by a water treatment plant," said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. "Water treatment plants for both the Erie County Water Authority and the Buffalo Water Authority can take care of the issues that can sometimes close a beach. What surprised me, and I think surprised the people of Toledo is they were under the impression that their water treatment facilities would be able to handle the high levels of toxin if they ever got that high."
It's less likely the blooms which affected Toledo's drinking water over the weekend would hit hard in Western New York because of water currents and the depth of the lake, but Senator Charles Schumer says there's no reason to not be prepared. "We have a little more time, it's much worse in the western half of Lake Erie than it is in the eastern half," Schumer said. "I am of the view that a stitch in time saves nine."
Schumer wants the EPA to require communities who get their water from Lake Erie to monitor for toxins. Currently Erie County and the City of Buffalo both monitor water to ensure its safety.
The Senator also says measures are in place to help prevent the algae blooms.
"In the Farm Bill we put money to deal with toxic runoffs that come from our farms and factories in to our waterways. They ought to start distributing that money right away. It helps farmers deal with phosphates that are put in to the water, that's what blue/green algae thrives on, to prevent those from getting in to the water, sewage that gets in to the water, and other things."