Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the blue-green algae.
Under the category of blogging when something important happens, I figured I’d record for posterity how it went for us during the Lake Erie Harmful Algae Bloom (HAB) of 2014 — also known as Aquapocalypse, Waterpocalypse, and #emptyGlassCity.
(Side note: the only other major event akin to this one that I could think of that I might have blogged about was the Northeast Blackout of 2003, and it was kind of a non-event for me, as the bank where I worked at the time had its own backup generator, and our department’s computer systems were independent of the rest of the company. So, our work went on, and I believe power was restored by the time we clocked out for the day.)
The Reader’s Digest version of the weekend for us: We didn’t get to go out to eat. Boo hoo. Seriously, that was the biggest impact — that, plus needing drinking water. Luckily, by the time Aaron went out to get some, the local stores had restocked. No problem.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
It started out as a pretty normal morning. Connor got me up at 7:45am with, “Mommy, I got a big poopy,” which is the standard morning greeting. I got him changed and dressed, then got myself into the shower.
I had my phone on the bathroom counter, and I heard it buzz while I was showering. I got to thinking about days gone by, when a ringing telephone might have jolted me out of the shower — or at least had me turn off the water long enough to listen to the answering machine. Not anymore. Nope nope. Nothing is so important that I can’t finish rinsing the soap out of my hair.
When I got out and checked my phone, I saw this:
“hey dude they’re saying don’t drink the water”
I read the link, then replied, “Eww! Thanks for the heads-up!”
I knew I couldn’t spend too much time in the bathroom reading about the water crisis, since Connor was waiting for me, but I jumped onto Twitter to see what the Blade had to say. (I follow The Blade and a few different reporters on Twitter, so that’s where I get most of my news.)
MT @toledonews: BREAKING NEWS: Toledo issues ‘do not drink’ water advisory Saturday after water-treatment plant samples yield microcystin.
— Taylor Dungjen (@taylordungjen) August 2, 2014
Crap. No showering? Oh, well.
I skipped brushing my teeth, got dressed, and got Connor downstairs for the morning.
While Connor was waiting for his breakfast (and playing on my phone, as per usual), I wrote Aaron a note and took it back upstairs to stick it to the bathroom mirror — right at his eye level, so he’d see it.
Of course, when Aaron got up to pee around 10am, he didn’t see the note before he took a drink out of the bathroom faucet.
Once he looked up and saw it, he called down the stairs in a fog, “What’s this about the water?”
I tried to explain that we couldn’t drink the water because of toxic algae blooms in Lake Erie, but that was too detailed for half-asleep Aaron. He mumbled that he was going back to bed.
The morning was really no big thing. I made my standard morning latte with the cold-brewed coffee we already had in the fridge, Connor had his milk, and all was right with the world. Connor and I just did our thing all morning: watching TV, playing with toys and blocks and alphabet magnets, whatever. It was a drizzly, dreary morning, or we might have gone to the park.
Aaron was a smidge late getting up, so I made some guacatuna salad for lunch (I saved half for Aaron), and gave Connor some leftovers and fruit. By the time we were done eating, Aaron was up and showering. (Yes, showering. Neither of us saw any ill effects from showering over the weekend.)
Once Aaron had gotten dressed, gotten Connor upstairs for Quiet Time, and eaten his lunch, we started throwing together a brief shopping list for the weekend. We normally do our weekly shopping on Sunday, but now we suddenly needed drinking water, since all we had on hand was one gallon of Spring Water.
In the midst of our planning, Aaron got a text from our buddy Mark who lives up the street. They were out of town, but offered us the use of their outside tap, since they have well water. Yay! We scrounged up three empty gallon jugs (in part by emptying our gallon of Spring Water into several smaller containers), and added a stop to Aaron’s trip. We still decided he’d pick up some bottled water and some more spring water, plus some milk and juice and bananas.
While he went off to the store, I sorted through some boxes of my old stuff that my Mom had unearthed and dropped off several weeks ago. Being productive FTW!
I also did a little online research to see whether we could wash dishes and clothes, since no one official had been particularly forthcoming at that point.
Just did some research 2 determine whether our city water’s levels of algal toxins allow for washing clothes & dishes. Verdict: OK. I think.
— Diana Schnuth (@dianaschnuth) August 2, 2014
(Later on, officials said to use cold water only for washing clothes, and to rinse dishes with bottled water after washing them in tap water.)
It ended up just being a chill day overall, with an extra errand on Aaron’s part, and with no going out to eat. It actually confused Connor quite a bit, since “going to the restaurant” is our standard operating procedure for dinner on Saturday. We washed our dishes in the dishwasher, drank bottled water, and no one got sick. We did opt to skip Connor’s bath for the night, just because he has a penchant for “pretending” to drink the bathwater.
On Sunday, there was still no news as to whether we could drink the water. Same story: chill morning with Connor, same as usual. Ate lunch at home — actually, I wasn’t particularly hungry, so I just grazed on some fruit and healthy snacks. Got Connor up for Quiet Time a little earlier than usual for a Sunday, got the grocery list together, started the laundry. Typical Sunday, just no going out for lunch.
Aaron came back from the store with a few more cases and gallon jugs of bottled water, just in case. We still hadn’t heard anything about when the ban might be lifted.
As a side note: we don’t watch the news. We don’t listen to the radio. We don’t check Facebook daily. If I hadn’t gotten a text from my friend, I might not have checked Twitter until much later in the day, and who knows how much water I might have drank by then? Hell, we probably would have tried going out to lunch and wondering what the hell was going on that every goddamn restaurant was closed.
At any rate, we had a pretty normal dinner, with minimal prep. (Yes, that’s normal for us. Actually cooking something involved for Sunday dinner is kind of a special treat.) Finished up the laundry, packed lunches for the next day, chilled and watched TV and addressed Connor’s birthday party invitations. Went to bed not knowing when the ban would be lifted.
Next morning, I double-checked online that Connor’s daycare was open before dropping him off with two bottles of water. They had a few cases on hand, so it turned out that my couple of bottles weren’t needed, after all.
Showed up to work where there was no potable water. Not until mid-morning, anyway, when they brought a couple cases of bottled water to each floor. (Still no coffee, though.)
Finally, mid-morning on Monday, we got the word:
That still meant no coffee or ice machine at work until they flushed everything out, but the good news was that, since we’d been using tap water at home despite the drinking ban, we didn’t have to flush our lines there.
Crisis over. For now.
And that’s how the weekend of Aquapocalypse 2014 went down at the Schnuth household.