The plan comes after toxins — produced by cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae — were discovered in Salem's drinking water.
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Health Authority is preparing to start requiring routine testing of water sources for toxins after contaminated water was discovered in Salem.
The new rules aimed at major drinking water systems in the state will be stricter than current federal guidelines, the Statesman Journal reported .
State health officials hope to install temporary rules by the end of the month that will require local officials to notify the public of test results.
The move comes after toxins were discovered in Salem’s drinking water. The amount of cyanotoxins in the water was high enough to potentially harm children under 6 years old and some adults with compromised immune systems.
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While testing for cyanotoxins has not previously been required in Oregon, Salem officials do test for the toxins.
The city issued a do-not-drink notice May 29, which was eventually lifted June 2. City officials have been criticized for not revealing that they had positive test results earlier.
An Oregon Health Authority official had recommended city officials delay the advisory citing guidelines from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“The Salem experience helped us understand that the guidelines from EPA on cyanotoxins are voluntary guidelines, not regulations,” Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said Tuesday.
The guidelines may be insufficient in a situation that could be getting worse in Oregon and requires a regulatory approach, Allen said.
Toxic algae blooms are become increasingly common in Detroit Lake — but until now they haven’t entered Salem’s water system at dangerous levels.
The temporary rules will get the state through the current algae-bloom season, Allen said.
Information from: Statesman Journal, http://www.statesmanjournal.com