Officials Still Urge Caution as River Algae Levels Subside

Tap Water Safe to Drink, However River Recreation Not Advised

Wheeling Intelligencer
23 August 2015

WHEELING - A health advisory issued this week urging residents to use caution while doing recreational water activities in the Ohio River this weekend is no longer necessary for most of the area.

The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department and city of Wheeling have been working with several local, state and national organizations concerning the recent discovery of blue-green algae along the Ohio River near the Pike Island Locks and Dam.

With assistance from the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission and the Ohio EPA, water samples collected Friday along the Ohio River show algae levels below reporting limits.

Although the water quality levels are improving, caution should be observed in areas above the Pike Island Locks and Dam on the Ohio River. While the algae, which occurs naturally, is no longer visible in large mats, Ohio Valley residents should still use caution when using the Ohio River for water recreational activities.

A water conservation order is still in effect for all of Ohio County - including Wheeling, Ohio County PSD, Bethlehem, Triadelphia and other water operations supplied by the city - until further notice.

This water conservation has no effect on water quality. Residents are asked to refrain from watering lawns, filling swimming pools, washing cars and any other unnecessary water usage.

This water conservation order is being issued as a precaution until water storage levels are achieved. The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department is asking Ohio County residents not to do open burning of trash, yard debris or other material until further notice. The city will not be issuing burn permits until further notice.

Public drinking water supplied from the Wheeling Water Department, including Ohio County Public Service District, will continued to be closely monitored. The Wheeling Water Department is now blending water from the Ohio River with well water as a precaution. Public drinking water supplied by the Wheeling Water Department continues to be safe to drink.

Water testing on Wednesday at the Pike Island Lock and Dam showed elevated levels of blue-green algae. The algae, at high concentrations, can cause health problems such as skin irritation, eye irritation or intestinal illnesses.

Anyone who may be experiencing symptoms related to exposure to blue-green algae, including stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, fever, muscle weakness, or difficulty breathing, should contact their health care provider, particularly if they have been in contact with Ohio River water.

For more information, contact the Wheeling Ohio County Health Department at 304-234-3682 or the Wheeling Water Treatment Plant at 304-234-3835.