From the AP via TPM:
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Long lines formed at water distribution centers and store shelves were quickly emptied of bottled water after Ohio’s fourth-largest city told residents not to drink from its water supply that was fouled by toxins possibly from algae on Lake Erie.
The warning effectively cut off the water supply to 400,000 people in Toledo, most of its suburbs and a few areas in southeastern Michigan.
Worried residents told not to drink, brush their teeth or wash dishes with the water emptied store shelves and waited hours for deliveries of bottled water from across Ohio as the governor declared a state of emergency.
Gov. John Kasich pledged that state agencies were working to bring water and other supplies to areas around Toledo while also assisting hospitals and other businesses impacted. The state also was making plans to make more deliveries if the water problem lingered, he said.
“What’s more important than water? Water’s about life,” Kasich said. “We know it’s difficult. We know it’s frustrating.”
The governor said it was too early to say how long the water advisory will last or what caused toxins to spike suddenly in the drinking water.
“We don’t really want to speculate on this,” Kasich told The Associated Press. “When it comes to this water, we’ve got be very careful.”
Samples of water were flown to the federal and state Environmental Protection Agency offices in Cincinnati and Columbus and a university in Michigan for additional testing, officials said.
Residents waking up to the warning on Saturday morning lined up outside just about any store selling water. Some were mothers concerned about how they would make formula for their infants and other were worried about their elderly parents.
The water system that handles that part of the state is aging and has been in need of serious upgrading for decades. It’s fragile and expensive; my mom tells me that when they lived there, it wasn’t uncommon to get a $500 water/sewage bill per quarter.
Now, of course, it’s up to the government — state, local, and ultimately the federal — to come up with ways to supply safe and plentiful drinking water for the citizens. Our infrastructure is crumbling, and when we’ve gotten to the point that it’s safer to drink the water in Tijuana than it is in Toledo, something needs to be done.