500,000 in Ohio still can’t drink the water

Water in Toledo, Ohio, and surrounding areas remained officially undrinkable on Sunday, more than 24 hours after a do-not-drink order went out to 500,000 Ohioans.

Water at a Toledo treatment plant tested positive for a toxin on Saturday, leading the governor to declare a state of emergency in three counties.

Toledo’s mayor said Sunday that the city was awaiting the results of new tests on the water. “This is not over yet,” he said.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich declared a state of emergency for residents of Lucas, Wood and Fulton counties early Saturday after two water samples from a Toledo treatment plant tested positive for microcystin, a toxin possibly caused by an algae bloom in Lake Erie.

Carol Hester, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, said Sunday that water samples from the Collins Water Treatment Plant had been sent to three different labs and the state was still waiting for some of the results.

“We are awaiting results from all of those locations to be able to look at them all together as a whole and discuss with the technical experts what the results are and how to move forward,” she said.

Earlier Saturday, state officials warned residents in Toledo and surrounding areas not to drink, or even boil, the water tainted with microcystin, which 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.

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

Chris Abbruzzese, a state spokesman, said the Ohio Department of Transportation and National Guard were delivering water to Toledo. The state department of corrections has access to a milk processing plant in Columbus, roughly two hours south of Toledo, and the agency was using it to produce water for city residents, he said.

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