Toledo Businesses Accused Of Price Gouging During Water Crisis
— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) August 3, 2014
After 48 hours of not having to safe tap water, residents in Toledo were relieved to have access to clean water again. On Saturday, more than 400,000 Toledo residents were advised to not drink the tap water in the area due to high levels of algae-produced toxins that were found in the city’s water reservoir. Residents couldn’t even boil the water to try and get rid of the toxins, as the concentration levels were so high. With that, many Toledo residents and other nearby communities rushed to grocery stores and gas stations to stockpile bottled water, as city officials weren’t quite sure how long it would take to treat the algae-toxins.
Many grocers and suppliers of bottled water took advantage of the sudden demand of bottled water by increasing the price of water; raising prices by over 30 percent in some places. Residents took to social media, showing pictures of the price tags of water in the area, and requesting government intervention. After being bombarded by social media posts and gaining media attention, news outlets advised residents who were taken advantage of to write to the state’s lawmakers and politicians, asking for a refund, and also for reprimand of the stores.
Though Ohio doesn’t have concrete legislation regarding price gouging, it is illegal to “increase the price of product already in stock based solely on current events.” This is what many residents are saying happened during the weekend crisis.
Things got so chaotic in the city that the Ohio National Guard was called to deliver bottled water to residents and provided purification systems in order for residents to have drinkable water. Authorities in southeastern Michigan utilized their own water stations in order to help supply clean water to those affected.
After a series of chemical treatments, which included adding carbon and chlorine to water system, the advisory was lifted Monday afternoon.
Ohio Governor John Kasich said not only will a full investigation determining the exact cause of the incident be launched, but officials will also investigate the businesses involved with price gouging.