Melbourne's latest test finds drinking water free of algae toxins
Lake Washington's circulation expected to improve soon
MELBOURNE, Fla. – Melbourne officials announced today that the most recent tests this week of Lake Washington and of the city's drinking water show the water is free of algae toxins that have been lingering in the lake, lately, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.
"Test results on the latest sample taken from Lake Washington indicate no toxins were present in either the raw water coming into the water treatment plant or the treated finished water that is distributed to our customers," the city's website reads.
Because of the recent rains, the lake should seeing improved circulation, "thereby supplying better water quality to our facility," Ralph Reigelsperger, public works and utilities director, wrote Friday in an email to the city manager. "As a side note, the raw water intake is strategically located to provide optimal raw water quality to the plant."
While diluting algae in the short-term, however, heavy summer rains can bring more nitrogen and phosphorus runoff into lakes, resulting into more algae blooms in the future.
City officials have blamed the water problems on warmer-than-usual temperatures that hit earlier in the year, as well as ongoing repairs to the water treatment process that typically handles these sorts of water-supply problems.
Construction projects that disrupt the usual flow through the water pipes and lower water use also have resulted in more variability in chlorine levels throughout the system, city officials said.
Utility staff have been adjusting disinfection and flushing out the system, as needed, city officials said.
The city's water issues have been complicated by poor conditions in Lake Washington this summer. The lake has been posted with signs this week, warning of a potentially toxic algae.
Last week, Lake Washington samples measured at levels ranging from 0.06 to 0.11 parts per billion of an algae toxin called saxitoxin. Those concentrations are below the guidelines some states and other countries have set for saxitoxin: Oregon, Brazil and Australia have a 3 ppb guideline for drinking water. Ohio's guideline of 0.2 pbb is the strictest.
Saxitoxin and many other blue-green algae toxins are not federally regulated in drinking water.
Biologists say warmer water temperatures and increasing phosphorus help to trigger more frequent and severe algae blooms in some Florida Lakes.
Recent research by the St. Johns River Water Management District points to the practice of spreading biosolids — the leftover solids from sewage treatment plants — on rural lands is increasing phosphorus in Lake Washington and other east Central Florida lakes.
More than 200 of the city's water customers attended a town hall discussion Tuesday about the city's water, led by Rep. Randy Fine.
Beyond its city limits, Melbourne also supplies drinking water to Melbourne Beach, Indialantic, Indian Harbour Beach, Satellite Beach, Palm Shores, Melbourne Village and to part of the unincorporated areas south of the Pineda Causeway. Melbourne also provides wholesale water service to West Melbourne.
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