Communities Applaud $150 Million To Fight Algae, But Question Whether It's Sufficient

Lake Erie algae, by Flickr.com/NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
Lake Erie algae, by Flickr.com/NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
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Sandusky's water treatment chief, Douglas Keller, says he's been fighting the growing problem for about 10 years. Sandusky now relies primarily on adding alum to its water. But Keller says his system and others are starting to consider turning the whole treatment system literally upside down, using something called a diffused aeration system.

"The alum makes the particles in the water cling together and fall to the bottom. And that's how we get the algae out also," he explains. "We try to take it out as a whole cell so we don't break it open, because that's where the toxins are, inside the cell.

"This new DAS system uses air bubbles and it floats the particles to the top where there's a skimming arm that comes through and skims it right off the top.

Sandusky's is a relatively small system, processing about 10 million gallons a day. It's midway between Cleveland and Toledo, which banned water use for nearly 72 hours two weeks ago after tests showed heightened levels of toxins.

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