VT drinking water systems now sampling for blue-green algae toxins

As part of a new program to monitor public drinking water supplies for blue-green algae toxins, 22 of Vermont's drinking water systems from Lake Champlain began sampling the water this week for contaminants.

BURLINGTON, VT, July 8, 2015 -- As part of a new program to monitor public drinking water supplies for blue-green algae toxins, 22 of Vermont's drinking water systems from Lake Champlain began sampling the water this week for contaminants.

Some blue-green algae blooms produce toxins that are harmful to humans and animals. Testing is the only way to know if an algae toxin is present in drinking water. This new 12-week monitoring program will bolster the state's current efforts to visually monitor for blue-green algae blooms and protect the public from potential toxins in drinking water.

Lake Champlain is the drinking water source for about 150,000 Vermonters. Since the Environmental Protection Agency does not require testing for blue-green algae toxins, participation in collecting samples is voluntary.

Thirty public drinking water system operators were trained this spring on visual bloom identification and toxin detection response. Water system operators are submitting samples to the Vermont Department of Health Laboratory for toxin analyses.

Brian Bishop, chief operator for the Swanton Village Treatment Facility, explained that algae toxin detection in a finished drinking water sample would be rare. Further, Jim Fay, general manager of the Champlain Water District -- Vermont's largest system -- added that historical test results for blue-green algae toxins have shown no results above the minimum detectable levels.

Each year, the Vermont Department of Health, working in partnership with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and the Lake Champlain Committee, monitor 140 recreational locations around the state. Shoreline monitoring this year began on June 15.

See also:

"The Blue-Green Monster: How Harmful Algal Blooms Are Increasing Costs, Risks for WTPs"

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

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