Conference to focus on drinking water challenges in Flint, Toledo and Waukesha

November 1, 2016 | Events, Research, UToday, Law
By Staff



The University of Toledo, whose researchers are on the front lines of the effort to fight algal bloom toxins and pollution in the Great Lakes, will host the 16th annual Great Lakes Water Conference this week at the College of Law.

water conference 2016The public drinking water supply will be the focus of the event titled “Safe Drinking Water: A Tale of Three Cities” Friday, Nov. 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Law Center McQuade Law Auditorium on Main Campus.

The conference will address the diverse drinking water challenges faced by Toledo and Flint, Mich., and Waukesha, Wis. The one-day conference is sponsored by the UT College of Law and its Legal Institute of the Great Lakes.

Flint’s lead-contamination water crisis will be explored by experts, including keynote speaker Todd Flood, special counsel for the Michigan Department of Attorney General and a UT College of Law alumnus, at 8:45 a.m.

At 11 a.m., panelists from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences, and Toledo’s Collins Park Water Treatment Plant will discuss the efforts to prevent a recurrence of Toledo’s microcystin contamination that led to a “Do Not Drink” advisory for three days in August 2014.

The third panel at 1:30 p.m. will cover the approval earlier this year of Waukesha’s controversial request to divert Lake Michigan water out of the Great Lakes basin because its groundwater source for public drinking water is contaminated with radium. Panelists will include the mayor of Waukesha and the head of the Chicago-based Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.

“Safe drinking water is a necessity, but not a given, even in this water-rich region,” said Ken Kilbert, UT professor of law and director of the Legal Institute of the Great Lakes. “This conference will shed light on both the problems and potential solutions.”

For more information on the free, public conference, go to utoledo.edu/law/academics/ligl/conferences.html.

Water quality is a major research focus at UT. With $12.5 million in active grants underway, UT is studying algal blooms, invasive species such as Asian carp and pollutants, and looking for pathways to restore our greatest natural resource for future generations to ensure communities continue to have access to safe drinking water. They’re also studying the public health impact of exposure to Lake Erie algal toxins, such as the impact on a person’s liver.

Researchers and students protect the public drinking water supply for the greater Toledo area throughout summer algal bloom season by conducting water sampling to alert water treatment plant operators of any toxins heading toward the water intake. UT’s 28-foot research vessel enables the University to partner with the city of Toledo and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to monitor the health of the lake and provide real-time data.

The UT Lake Erie Center is a research and educational facility focused on environmental conditions and aquatic resources in Maumee Bay and western Lake Erie as a model for the Great Lakes and aquatic ecosystems worldwide.