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Cyanotoxin Monitoring To Begin in 2018

Large water systems will be required to monitor for and report the presence of cyanotoxins under rules proposed by the EPA that would take effect in 2018.

The agency will also require monitoring by a sample of small water systems (serving 25 to 10,000 people) that are considered vulnerable to cyanotoxins. EPA will fund monitoring for the small systems it selects.

The 1996 Safe Drinking Water Act amendments require EPA issue a new list of unregulated contaminants every five years to be monitored by public water systems. On December 11, 2015, EPA proposed monitoring for ten cyanotoxins thought most likely to be found in the nation’s drinking water. Most of these are a class of cyanotoxins called microcystins.

Recent advances in the ability to detect low levels of cyanotoxins, along with studies examining the effects of cyanotoxins on human health, have heightened public concern about these contaminants in our drinking water. The proposed monitoring will provide a basis to determine future regulation and maximum permissible levels for these contaminants.

In many cases, control of cyanotoxins in the water supply will be achieved most efficiently and, often, inexpensively through watershed protection and management. Water-resource protection and management methods such as limiting nutrient loading from runoff, erosion, stormwater, and wastewater discharge can help prevent cyanobacteria growth within a drinking-water supply system.

Such water-resource protection and management methods will help water suppliers avoid the need to install expensive treatment and removal methods.

Scientists predict that climate change will have many effects on our freshwater environments. Warmer water temperatures occurring along with nutrient pollution favors the growth of harmful cyanobacteria blooms.

These blooms can endanger human health when we come in contact with or drink contaminated water. Cyanotoxins produced by cyanobacteria blooms can have adverse health effects on humans, pets, and wildlife.

—Jane Ceraso


Jane Ceraso is NEIWPCC’s Director of Water Resource Protection Programs.

This story is a sidebar to “A Study in Cyan,” published in the March, 2016, issue of the Interstate Water Report, the predecessor of Interstate Waters. The Cyan article looks at the problem of cyanobacteria and is available online and as a reprint. The reprint includes “Cyanotoxin Monitoring To Begin in 2018.”

A Study in Cyan

This story is available as a reprint, one of a series from NEIWPCC. It was originally published in the March, 2016, issue of the Interstate Water Report, the predecessor of Interstate Waters.