Organizations Release Cyanotoxins Guide

April 24, 2015
The guide is designed to help water utility mangers detect and control cyanotoxins

The American Water Works Assn. (AWWA) and the Water Research Foundation (WRF) released a guide to help water utility managers detect and control cyanotoxins, the algae-related contaminants that led to a “do not drink” advisory for 400,000 people in Toledo, Ohio, last summer.

“A Water Utility Manager’s Guide to Cyanotoxins” addresses cyanotoxin occurrence, source water management and treatment strategies. Presented in a Q&A format, it is available for free download from both the AWWA and WRF websites. A more technical companion document is also in development.

Cyanotoxins typically arise from cyanobacteria—often referred to as blue-green algae in lakes and reservoirs and can impact drinking water quality. While health effects from drinking water contaminated by cyanotoxins are not well understood, potential negative health impacts of prolonged or very high exposures include liver, nervous system and gastrointestinal problems.

The guide comes as the federal government considers how to address cyanotoxins from both regulatory and legislative perspectives. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to publish a health advisory on cyanotoxins during spring or summer of 2015, to assist regulators and water managers as they consider steps to protect the public from unregulated contaminants. U.S. Congress is considering multiple bills related to cyanotoxin monitoring and risk assessment.

“The Toledo incident launched cyanotoxins into the public consciousness,” said AWWA President John Donahue. “This guide will help water managers make informed decisions in how they manage cyanotoxin concerns and communicate effectively with their customers.”

“As we look towards the warm days of summer, this new guide presents water utility managers with the right information at the right time to help them confidently apply the best science and best practices to protect the communities they serve,” said Robert Renner, WRF’s executive director.

Source: American Water Works Assn.

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