Ohio EPA Holds Public Hearing on Proposed HAB Reporting Rules for Public Water Systems and Laboratories

Proposed rules for public drinking water systems and laboratories on the reporting and monitoring of harmful algal blooms (HABs) will be the focus of a Feb. 24, 2016, Ohio EPA public hearing.

The Feb. 24 hearing will begin at 9:30 a.m. in Conference Room A at Ohio EPA, Lazarus Government Center, 50 West Town Street, Columbus. Those who plan to attend must bring photo identification (such as a valid driver's license) and register at the Security desk in the lobby upon arrival.

Record rainfall and excessive runoff across the state contributed to HABs growing in Ohio’s lakes, reservoirs and rivers during the summer of 2015. Current reporting programs are voluntary, and therefore the full scale of HABs across Ohio remains unknown. If adopted, these new administrative rules would assist Ohio EPA in better understanding the extent to which HABs are growing across the state, and ensure greater protection for customers of all public water systems that use surface water as their source. The issues addressed in the proposed rules include:

  • establishing microcystins action levels in drinking water based on U.S. EPA’s health advisory levels;
  • setting HAB screening, microcystins monitoring and reporting requirements for public water systems that use surface water as their source;
  • requiring increased monitoring based on detections of microcystins above 5 ppb in the raw water or exceedances of action levels in drinking water;
  • requiring public notification in cases of monitoring violations and exceedances of action levels in drinking water, as well as consumer confidence reports;
  • establishing requirements for laboratory certification, analytical techniques and reporting deadlines; and
  • requiring public water systems to submit written HAB treatment optimization protocols if microcystins are detected in raw or finished drinking water. Additionally, public water systems may be required to submit a HAB general plan with one or a combination of source water protection activities, reservoir management and in-plant treatment technologies; for security, specific details of treatment protocols will be considered protected material and not public records.

In 2015, the Agency provided educational webinars and received comments from public drinking water systems and other interested parties on a draft version of the proposed rules. Based on that feedback, Ohio EPA modified the draft rules while maintaining the requirement of ongoing HAB testing data from public water systems that use surface water as a source.

The proposed rules may be viewed online at: http://epa.ohio.gov/ddagw/rules.aspx.

Paper copies of the proposed rules may be requested (and comments submitted) to: Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Division of Drinking and Ground Waters, P.O. Box 1049, Lazarus Government Center, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049, Attn: Susan Kramer or by email: ddagw_rulecomments@epa.ohio.gov.

Written comments are given equal consideration with oral testimony and must be received by the close of business, February 24, 2016.


The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency was created in 1972 to consolidate efforts to protect and improve air quality, water quality and waste management in Ohio. Since then, air pollutants dropped by as much as 90 percent; large rivers meeting standards improved from 21 percent to 89 percent; and hundreds of polluting, open dumps were replaced with engineered landfills and an increased emphasis on waste reduction and recycling.

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