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Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins raised a glass and took a big swig of local water Monday morning, signaling that it was finally safe to drink. "Here's to you, Toledo," Collins said at a news conference, smiling for cameras before taking a sip of water drawn, presumably, from a nearby tap. With that symbolic gesture, the mayor lifted a three-day-old ban triggered by raised levels of the toxic chemical microcystin, a likely result of algae blooms in Lake Erie fed by runoff contaminated by farm fertilizer and sewage-treatment sludge.
The ban forced more than 400,000 people in northwest Ohio and southwestern Michigan to find alternate sources of drinking water. They also were warned not to bathe or cook from the city system. There were no reported illnesses, but the crisis illuminated the ongoing concern over frequent summer blooms in the lake. Officials said they couldn't say for sure a similar emergency wouldn't recur.
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