E. Texas lakes being monitored for toxin that sparked Ohio water - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

E. Texas lakes being monitored for toxin that sparked Ohio water crisis

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The large algae bloom along Lake Erie, seen from a satellite, that caused a ban on drinking water in Toledo. (Source: NOAA) The large algae bloom along Lake Erie, seen from a satellite, that caused a ban on drinking water in Toledo. (Source: NOAA)
City officials said as a result of the Toledo, Ohio ban they will be starting to test Lake Tyler for the contaminant. (Source: KLTV Staff) City officials said as a result of the Toledo, Ohio ban they will be starting to test Lake Tyler for the contaminant. (Source: KLTV Staff)
TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Monitoring is being increased at an East Texas lake following a water crisis over the weekend in Toledo, Ohio. In that city, a complete ban was in place from Saturday through Monday, leaving many residents without water to use for drinking and bathing.

The ban was a result of an alarming level of a toxin found in a massive algae bloom on Lake Erie, Toledo's primary water source. The toxin, microcystin, can lead to health problems including diarrhea and liver problems.

UT-Tyler assistant professor of biology Dr. Lance Williams knows the area well, as he previously taught at Ohio State University, and said the land that feeds into the lake likely led to the bloom.

"There's extensive agriculture in Northern Ohio," Williams said. "And all those tributaries lead into Lake Erie."

After the ban in Ohio, the City of Tyler said they will start testing on Lake Tyler for the toxin. The Environmental Protection Agency already tests Lake Palestine and other select lakes across the state for the algae and toxins, but the city wants to be sure the toxin levels are consistent in both lakes.

"From what we've seen this weekend, we just want to make sure that we're not experiencing an algae bloom at this time," Tyler Utilities and Public Works Director Greg Morgan said. "Just to be on the safe side we are doing some additional testing."

They expect the results to mirror those of Lake Palestine, which show a "low risk" of microcystin in the water. Morgan and Williams both said algae appears constantly in numerous bodies of water, but seeing blooms like the one on Lake Erie are not likely, due to what feeds into our local water supplies.

"The watersheds are much smaller on Lake Tyler, for example, the streams run through South Tyler that make Lake Tyler," Williams said. "So it's not nearly the same type of land use than you have in that part of Ohio."

The City of Tyler hopes to have test results back on Lake Tyler in the coming days. Longview said they perform weekly checks on all three of their water sources: Lake Cherokee, Lake O' The Pines and the Sabine River, and so far there have been no unusual readings.

The Environmental Protection Agency said they do not require agencies to test for algae blooms and the microcystin. The agency said they are monitoring the toxins and could choose to regulate the contaminant.

The last testing of lakes performed by the EPA was in 2007. A testing performed in 2012 is set to be released later this year.

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