Carroll Township is located along the western shore of Lake Erie, just east of Toledo, Ohio. Like many small coastal communities, this township is home to just under two thousand people who rely on Lake Erie for their water supply ("Carroll Township, Township Information"). Since 1998, a small treatment plant has been responsible for the testing and treatment of the local water supply. In September of 2013, this treatment plant was shut down and flushed when microcystin was found in the treated water supply. Microcystin is a potentially deadly chemical that is produced by microcystis, a type of blue-green algae that blooms annually in Lake Erie.
Carroll Township residents were quickly warned to stop drinking the tap water and for two days, relied upon bottled water to meet their needs. And thankfully, no one was sickened by the toxin despite the fact that it was detected at levels that were nearly three and a half times higher than threshold established by the World Health Organization. Under current law, microcystin testing is not required by water treatment facilities in the region but warrants consideration for future rule making. In addition, little is known about the length of time the toxin remains present in water bodies and their sediments after the initial bloom fades. When it is detected, microcystin is expensive to treat which could prove challenging for smaller coastal communities. In accordance with current estimations, a city the size of Toledo, Ohio would spend between $6,000 and $7,00 dollar per day to treat microcystin in the water supply, over the course of a month, that total jumps to nearly $150,000 dollars. As a result of these factors, microcystin and harmful algal blooms are a growing concern for coastal communities especially in the Western Lake Erie basin ("Carroll Township's scare with toxin a 'wake-up call'").
Since 1990 the severity and extent of Lake Erie's annual algal blooms has steadily increased. Thought to be the product increasing temperatures, agricultural run-off, and the shallow calm water of Lake Erie, these "mega-blooms" have been suggested as the new norm for this Great Lake ("Erie Algae: Report says mega-blooms could become the 'new-normal'"). If scientific predictions are correct, climate change is said to only worsen the situation. Facilitating their potential spread from West to East overtime ("Green menace of algae threatening Lake Erie").