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Niagara Region increases monitoring after microcystin discoveries

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After the first detection of microcystin at a local beach in June, and in reservoirs serving the DeCew Falls Water Treatment Plant in late August, Niagara Region officials say they have moved to daily testing at all local water treatment plants and further increased the frequency of visual inspection for blue-green algae.

Blue-green algae, which can produce toxins harmful to humans who drink, fish or bathe in the water, is being removed to minimize the risk of it multiplying, but the cyanobacteria has not been detected during daily testing of the water leaving the Decew Falls Water Treatment Plant over recent days, local officials announced.

Since Niagara Region first identified blue-green algae upstream from the Decew Falls Water Treatment Plant intake in July 2016, local officials have enhanced monitoring for both blue-green algae and the microcystin toxin across all water treatment plants. That includes visual inspection of the intakes and reservoirs to all six water treatment plants, and weekly testing for microcystin in the water before and after treatment.

“Water treatment processes have also been adjusted to neutralize and remove toxins before they enter the water distribution system,” Niagara Region Public Health announced in a recent statement.

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The Decew Falls Water Treatment Plant consists of three separate treatment trains with a combined rated capacity of 227,300 m³/day. Primary disinfection is achieved utilizing sodium hypochlorite with ultraviolet light as enhancement.

In addition to the recent closing of Charles Daley Park beach in Lincoln due to blue-green algae, Waverly Beach in Fort Erie was posted as unsafe due to algae just last week.

Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji said that Niagara Region Public Health has not had blue-green algae at a beach previously, so this is a new event for Niagara.

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