Council asked about OEPA violation

Water quality questioned

By David J. Coehrs -

A Wauseon couple confronted City Council members on Monday over a notice water customers received about increased contaminant levels.

Richard and Dianne Scherer told the council their nearly $60 monthly water bill “is high enough to resolve these issues,” before asking, “What, if anything, are they doing to get these issues under control?”

They referred to a notice advising customers that a current 0.080 parts per billion level of trihalomethanes (TTHMs) in the city’s drinking water is in violation of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency standards. The notice states the TTHMs are not an immediate health risk, but over years could affect the customers’ livers, kidneys or central nervous systems, and could increase their risk of cancer.

“There’s only two people, we’re paying almost sixty bucks a month, and they’re telling me not to drink it. What’s it going to cost us as homeowners to have it inside the EPA standards?” Richard Scherer asked.

The notice emphasizes that an alternative drinking water supply is not necessary, but customers with certain health concerns should speak with a physician.

Public Service Director Dennis Richardson told the Scherers the violation originated with the city’s second quarter water inspection earlier this year. He said the violation specifically targets a water line extending to the community of Tedrow in Dover Township, near the Fulton County Fairgrounds.

Fulton County Public Utilities Director Ziad Musallam plans to have equipment installed in a nearby water tower that should remove TTHMs and bring water quality back in compliance, Richardson said. Similar equipment was installed and made operational Oct. 1 in the city water tower off N. Shoop Avenue in Wauseon.

Richardson told the Scherers the city is obligated to inform every drinking water customer of violations that may affect only some. He said OPEA-mandated locations for the city’s quarterly water tests include sites both typical in the system, such as Dorothy B. Biddle Park, and areas “in the far reaches.”

The new equipment will not raise water prices, Richardson added.

Councilor Rick Frey noted that government standards for TTHM levels became more stringent in 2013. “So this wouldn’t have been anywhere as close to being over the limits from two years ago,” he said.

The city’s fourth-quarter water testing is scheduled for November.

In other business, Councilor Shane Chamberlin said the city Street Committee discussed citizen concerns about parking on Superior Street. He said the issue will be tabled until input is received from the street’s residents.

In department reports:

• Fire Chief Rick Sluder said the department continues negotiations with the Fulton County Commissioners to finalize an emergency medical services contract. He also announced that tickets are available for an Ohio State Firefighters Association Sportsmen’s Dinner raffle scheduled this Saturday.

• Police Chief Keith Torbet said as president of the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police he attended a summit last week that included the executive board of the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association and the command staff of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Torbet said the organizations unanimously opposed the passage of State Issue 3, a proposed amendment on the Nov. 3 ballot to legalize the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana.

He said a letter will be issued to to all Ohio law enforcement officials encouraging their support of opposition. All but two in Fulton County have committed.

Torbet said he will ask the City of Wauseon to join as well. “Regardless of what you think about marijuana, we feel this is not a good issue, and it is going to be detrimental to our community as well as our children,” he said.

He also announced the disbanding of the Wauseon Exchange Club. No reason was given.

The club gave the police department a $500 donation for the Safety City program as part of its distribution of treasury funds.

“They’ve done a lot of good for the citizens, and I just wanted to thank them for their years of service,” the chief said.

• Richardson said the city’s Water Reclamation Plant this week will host eight hours of authorized confined space training offered by a vendor with whom the plant does occasional business. Employees from the plant, the Public Works Department, and the fire department will participate.

He reported that preliminary work continues on the upcoming Linfoot Street reconstruction project. Ohio Gas is currently replacing gas mains, and a subcontractor is moving traffic signals further apart to accommodate widening of an intersection.

And the city continues to meet with Clemans Nelson & Associates of Dublin, Ohio, to work on job descriptions, classifications and salary wage compensation package for non-union workers.

Richardson also said Toledo Edison has replaced a broken pole at South Park which will allow the city’s traditional Christmas star to be installed this year.

• Finance Director Jamie Giguere told the council the city received approximately $1,450 of an $11.5 million settlement by Morton Salt Inc. and Cargill Inc. over allegations the companies conspired jointly to charge state and local governments increased prices for road salt.

Giguere said following interviews she has selected a new city water clerk, but won’t release the name until the person has been notified.

And Mayor Kathy Huner praised the return of the city’s Chili Fest over the weekend, saying, “A lot of people were pleased to have the Chili Fest back, and it was a great day.”

Fifteen chili vendors participated. The Speech and Debate Team won the People’s Choice and Mayor’s Choice awards, and the Wauseon Chamber of Commerce won the Judges Award.

The city council entered into executive session to discuss the purchase or sale of property. No action was taken.

Water quality questioned

By David J. Coehrs

David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.

David J. Coehrs can be reached at 419-335-2010.