The Zombie (Water) Apocalypse

It can start at any time.  ARE YOU READY?  Do you have what is necessary to survive in a harsh, unforgiving world where toxins are everywhere, people fight over a bottle of water, and basic services like Tim Horton’s coffee and strip mall sushi are gone?  Well are you?


Here in Lucas County Ohio and more specifically the greater Toledo Metro area we have recently experienced the Zombie Apocalypse.  Well, it was really a water apocalypse and it was more of a temporary shut down than dystopian undead opera, but it was serious to us.  We hit CNN (Wolf what’s his name was absent from The Situation Room but we still got on TV) and Fox News spent a couple of segments blaming President Obama.


Here is what actually happened.  Lake Erie (that’s one of the big five we like to call “great” for those of you geography challenged) experienced a HAB (Harmful Algal Bloom).  These little green monsters over-grow when they get too much sun light, nice calm waters, lots of zebra mussels and plenty of phosphorus.  The first two conditions are out of our control.  The second two are human made.  Zebra mussels, which are not indigenous but carpet baggers from container ships, filter out other types of algae, giving the bad kind a chance to spread like zombies.  The bad algae also gets all puffed up with phosphorous which comes from agricultural and urban runoff (basically fertilizer). 


What this type of algae spew into the water isn’t bacteria.  We have chemicals for that.  They spew toxins…very deadly nasty toxins that can kill small pets, the very old, the very weak,  and the very young.  They can make the rest of us miserable.  The only way to get rid of toxins is to dilute and filter.  Forget about boiling, that make it worse.  So Toledo et al had to go without drinking water for a few days while the water treatment plant did its complicated thing.  This caused hording, business shut downs, and apparently some fist fights in stores.


Here is what it didn’t cause…Death.  Although some people got sick almost across the board the water ban was followed, people didn’t die of toxic shock or thirst, and things have turned back to normal. 


So what are the lessons learned?  For me they are simple:


  1. Government works. Our water, normally safe, was tested appropriately and when not safe was restricted in use.  Government, at all levels supplied replacement water and kept the public notified as to the progress of both testing and projected return to service of our water. 
  2. Government doesn’t work. This is not a new problem.  For years there have been proposals to limit agro fertilizer usage along with controlling urban runoff.  However, with our hyper sensitive Fox News generated false fear of government oversight we have under-regulated one of our great lakes into a toxic waste area.  And, this isn’t going away, no matter what science deniers want to say about it.
  3.  People are crazy. Although I doubt anyone kept statistics, I suspect that more people hurt their backs hording bottled water than got sick due to the tap water. 
  4. People are distrusting. All city, state, and federal agencies have assured us that our water supply has returned to normal.  However, I have heard several people tell me that they are still not drinking our tap water and may “never trust it again.”


Finally, I have discovered that if the zombie apocalypse were to occur I would be good for about 24 hours.  That is for water.  Food a good deal longer.  Unless, of course, you count Propel as water.  Then I would be ok.  I wonder, what would fresh ground coffee brewed up with Propel taste like?  Don’t get me wrong, I would do it.  Even during Armageddon we need coffee.


Chris Watson

Drinking the water in Lucas County Ohio


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