Drinking Water Systems Not Equipped for Algae Toxins


Windsor-Essex is not prepared for the threat posed by toxic algae blooms in the Great Lakes.

That's according to a nationally renowned drinking water treatment expert.

Saad Jasim ran Windsor's water system for years before moving on to lead the provincially run Walkerton Clean Water Centre. He now heads up Windsor-based SJ Environmental Consultants.

He says health regulations and water systems are only focused on one form of cyanotoxins produced by the algae blooms.

Jasim told AM800's The Afternoon News there are two other toxins that aren't regulated or tested for and one can have a direct impact on humans.

"One of them is the Anatoxin A, I have a great concern with that because this impacts the nerve system" he says.

Jasim points out that there are technologies to control the toxins including ozone but it is complicated. He says the people in charge of our drinking water need to adapt to the threat.

"We need to make the regulators and the water systems authorities know what kind of concentrations they need to deal with and what to test for, as well."

Harmful algae bloom has been spotted near Colchester Harbour.

Jasim says he oversaw the installation of an ozone treatment system in Windsor in 2001, which is what Toledo is currently doing.

One of the factors behind the algae blooms is phosphorous from farm runoff but Jasim notes there is also 1000 sewage treatment plants that discharge into the Great Lakes and tens of thousands of septic systems.

Jasim delivered the warning at the 2019 Ontario Water Conference in a paper titled "Water Treatment Plants, the last line of defence."


-- With files from Patty Handysides