River’s current could help prevent a water crisis

FORT WAYNE Ind. (WANE) – In the wake of a water warning in Toledo, Fort Wayne to officials said a similar crisis is unlikely to happen in the city.

The water that feeds into the Three Rivers Water Filtration Plant comes from the St. Joe River. The current is actually a big factor in preventing high levels of harmful organisms from getting into the water, Frank Suarez, the spokesman for the Department of Public Works, said.

Toledo gets its water supply from Lake Erie, where big algae blooms are possibly to blame for the water ban.

“If they got their water from a river they probably would not have had that issue,” Suarez said. “There are currents in a lake, but not as much as you would have in a river. The rivers help break that up because of flow.”

The Maumee River connects to Lake Erie, not the St. Joe, so Suarez said there’s no concern of the algae flowing to Fort Wayne. The Environmental Protection Agency requires the city to test the river water once a month from April to October. Fort Wayne does those tests twice a week. Two employees also do visual inspections of the river to watch for signs of algae.

Last October, the Three Rivers Water Filtration Plant also got a new ultraviolet disinfection system. Again, there are a lot of checks before water flows to the public.

“All the way through the procedure there are constant tests every hour at the plant constantly progressing as it goes through,” Suarez said.

To make the water coming into the filtration plant as clean as possible, the city also helped create the St. Joe Watershed Initiative in 1995.

“We realized that in order to have better flow coming into the city, we needed to work with those people upstream as well too,” Suarez said. “They work out solutions of ways they can prevent runoff and sometimes make improvements to the land to put up barriers to prevent run off. Other places might use a different chemical or something in a fertilizer that might not have phosphorus in it.”


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