Ohio Offers Zero-Interest Loans to Improve Its Water Supply

August 14, 2014

Ohio's environmental regulators laid out a plan Thursday to assist cities with testing and treating their drinking water, a first step in the state's response to last week's water emergency in Toledo that left 400,000 people without clean tap water.

The state will make $150 million in interest-free loans available so that cities can upgrade water treatment and wastewater plants.

Some of that money can go toward establishing backup water sources or building new water towers while about $100 million will be for modernizing wastewater plants so they can cut down on the amount of phosphorus being dumped into in rivers and streams, said Craig Butler, director of Ohio's Environmental Protection Agency.

Phosphorus, found in both agriculture runoff and sewage overflows, feeds the blue-green algae found on Lake Erie that produces the toxin found in Toledo's water supply nearly two weeks ago.

Residents in northwestern Ohio and southeastern Michigan who get their tap water from Toledo were warned for two days not to drink the water or use it to cook or brush their teeth.

The water emergency in the state's fourth-largest city put a spotlight on the lake's algae problem that has been growing for more than decade and drawn attention to Toledo's aging water treatment system and how cities monitor their drinking water.

Ohio EPA will put $1 million toward new drinking water testing equipment and training for operators of water treatment facilities.

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