AWWA, WRF release guide for utility managers to detect, control cyanotoxins

April 24, 2015
The American Water Works Association and Water Research Foundation have released a guide to help water utility managers detect and control cyanotoxins, algae-related contaminants produced by cyanobacteria.

DENVER, CO, April 24, 2015 -- On Wednesday, April 22, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and Water Research Foundation (WRF) released a guide to help water utility managers detect and control cyanotoxins, algae-related contaminants produced by cyanobacteria, which also led to a "Do Not Drink" advisory for 400,000 people in the city of Toledo, Ohio, in August 2014 (see "Toledo water resources contaminated by toxin from algae in Lake Erie").

"A Water Utility Manager's Guide to Cyanotoxins" addresses cyanotoxin occurrence, source water management and treatment strategies. Presented in a simple 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 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 Environmental Protection Agency is expected to publish a health advisory on cyanotoxins during spring or summer of this year 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."

WRF Executive Director Robert Renner added, "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."

See also:

"New WRF study explores effective methods for toxic algae removal in drinking water"

"New study helps determine causes of toxic algal blooms in waterbodies"

About AWWA

Established in 1881, the American Water Works Association is the largest nonprofit, scientific and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water, the world’s most important resource. With approximately 50,000 members, AWWA provides solutions to improve public health, protect the environment, strengthen the economy and enhance our quality of life. For more information, visit

About the Water Research Foundation

The Water Research Foundation is an internationally recognized leader in sponsoring research that supports the water community in holistically and cooperatively managing water from all sources to meet social, environmental, and economic needs. WRF’s research provides reliable and relevant solutions to the most critical challenges facing the water community today and into the future. Founded in 1966, WRF is a 501(c)(3) non‐profit organization that has sponsored nearly 1,500 research projects and serves more than 1,000 subscribing organizations. For more information, visit


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