The mayor of Toledo, Ohio, lifted the ban on drinking city tap water Monday, saying tests showed the water is once again clear of toxins.
Mayor D. Michael Collins said the all-clear readings come after toxins discovered in the northwestern Ohio treatment plant had left more than 400,000 people in the region scrambling for drinking water since early Saturday. People in southeastern Michigan had also been told to avoid drinking tap water.
Collins said the toxin was likely from Lake Erie algae.
The Ohio National Guard and other state agencies had been delivering pallets of bottled water to city residents and operating water purification systems to make more drinkable water.
The water problem was complicated because boiling the water, a common tool to combat contamination, only serves to make the toxin more concentrated, officials said.
"Once we clear this problem up, that is not going to eliminate the algae problem in the western basin of Lake Erie, that is not going to eliminate the agricultural runoff, that is not going to eliminate mega-farming," Collins said Sunday, "That is where we have to go. It's not simply looking at the (water treatment) system."
News of the contaminated water touched off a shopping frenzy at stores for bottled water and bags of ice. Shelves were emptied of bottles and other water supplies as residents prepared for the worst. Stores in cities up to 50 miles away were reporting shortages of bottled water.
Toledo opened a half-dozen bring-you-own-container water distribution sites. Fire stations were also helping out. Families dragging coolers or lugging jugs, bottles and even cookie jars topped them off with well water funneled out of pickup trucks.
Tyshanta DeLoney of Toledo filled up a big plastic container after spending much of the day searching for water. "That was a blessing," she said.
Contributing: Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press; Associated Press