(WBIR) After residents in Toledo, Ohio were forced to go without water for several days, the Knoxville Utilities Board wants to reassure people of its testing standards.
In Toledo, it was three days before faucets could be used again. City officials told nearly 500,000 residents not to drink from the taps over the weekend because of a spike in toxic algae from Lake Erie. On Monday, tests for toxins came back negative, giving residents the all-clear to drink and use the water.
In East Tennessee, the Tennessee Clean Water Network (TCWN) said it's unlikely Knoxville could have a toxic algae problem.
"Our lakes are not natural lakes... they're reservoirs. So the water is constantly flowing and getting oxygenated. This is unlikely to happen here unless it's at a natural lake or lake that doesn't have a current running through it," said Renée Hoyos, the TCWN Executive Director.
The Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) tests the water for any abnormalities daily, taking about 35-million gallons out of the Tennessee River each day.
"We test it daily at the water plant and here in this water quality laboratory," said Debbie Ailey, the KUB manager of regulatory compliance. "We do about a 100,000 tests a year in support of water quality."
According to Ailey, they test for more than 150 substances, and have always met drinking water standards.
"I think our water is much, much cleaner than it was 10 years ago," Hoyos said.
But KUB said there are still problems. Along with litter in the Tennessee River, phosphates and nitrates from agriculture make their way into the water.
"Fertilizing commercial property right before a rain event, I mean it just doesn't make sense," said Angela Howard, the Executive Director of the Fort Loudon Lake Association. "They fertilize it, it rains, they think, 'Oh, I got it in the ground' but no it's actually runs right into the river. That fertilizer is tied to that algae production and that algae is what's causing Toledo's problem right now."
Howard said that as water quality has continued to improve, so has the awareness about keeping waterways clean.
"If we start being better now at keeping it clean, it will clean itself," she said.
According to Ailey, if for whatever reason, the water becomes unsafe to drink, KUB does have an emergency plan in place.