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Paden City Mayor Reports On Water Contamination

City Looks For Permanent Solution To Remove Chlorocarbon

March 7, 2019

At Paden City Council's March 4 meeting, Mayor Clyde Hochstrasser read a letter from the city regarding a contamination occurrence in the Paden City ground water supply. The letter stated "Our monitoring has shown an average PCE concentration in the drinking water supply for 2018 of 5.5 parts per billion (ppb), which is in excess of the USEPA's Maximum Contaminant Limit (MCL) of 5.0 ppb. The West Virginia Bureau for Public Health has issued us a formal Notice of Violation for exceeding the MCL for PCE."

Mayor Hochstrasser continued, "We would like for you to know first and foremost that steps are being taken to protect you from any health risks. While the contamination is not at dangerous levels, we are working diligently to correct this issue. At times, you will see various Local, State, and Federal Agencies in town. In accordance with regulations, we had been testing for this chemical on a three-year cycle, but due to its presence we have begun testing more frequently. We have also increased the number of locations sampled to include each well, blended well water before and after the air stripper, and some customer taps. By closely monitoring the PCE we will insure a safe water supply.

Steps taken so far have been to shut down the most contaminated well and increase use of the air stripper to remove more of the PCE. We also plan to have the aquifer probed to determine if we can cost effectively add interceptor wells to protect our supply wells or drill a new supply well. We will certainly do what is necessary to protect your water supply and are being assisted in our efforts by the US Environmental Protection Agency, West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, WV Bureau for Public Health, and West Virginia Rural Water Association."

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Tetrachloroethylene, also known under the name tetrachloroethene (TCE), or perchloroethylene (PCE), is a chlorocarbon. It is a colorless liquid that has been widely used for dry cleaning of fabrics and is sometimes called "dry-cleaning fluid." This contamination is believed to have seeped into the water table via the ground and sewer and is alleged to have originated from use of the chemical by the old Band Box Cleaners, which operated in Paden City for many years.

Reading from his prepared statement the Mayor went on to say, "According to the federal regulations, 'Some people who drink water containing tetrachloroethylene in excess of the MCL over many years could have problems with their liver and may have an increased risk of cancer. And, according to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), someone's odds of getting cancer from PCE in their drinking water would increase by one in one million if they consumed 17 ppb PCE over a lifetime.' While the health risks associated with PCE currently in your water supply are minimal, we will do everything we can to reduce them. Contamination of water supplies with PCE has occurred in other cities in West Virginia, and elsewhere, and they have taken steps to correct it. We will do the same."

The city is looking for funding for three possible options to take immediate steps to lower the PCE level: putting extraction wells in front of the existing wells to divert the contaminates away from the main wells, updating the strippers to make them more efficient, and adding a sprinkler system inside the tanks which causes air bubbles that help dissipate these types of contaminates.

A Thrasher Engineering representative at the meeting advised that a new stripper is included in the current water project, but it is at least two years away. However, there is a possibility that the stripper could be pulled from the water project and pushed through faster with other state funding. Mayor Hochstrasser added, "We can't do any more financing on the citizens' backs. We can't afford to go out for another increase to do what we need to do. We need to find some major help."

Assistant Superintendent of the Water, Streets, and Maintenance Joe Parrish went on to say that another way of fighting the contamination, until it can be determined if Thrasher can help get the new stripper sooner, is to attempt to increase the flow rate of the #4 well. Parrish says the problem is that running two strippers lowers the water pressure going into the water plant. By increasing the water pressure, he believes it would open up the current two strippers, and if that works, it should help drop the contaminate level.

At the March 4 meeting, Parrish was on hand to report that well #4 is complete and up and running.

In other water related matters, while the discussion over the city's water project continued, the paperwork was finalized to proceed. Due to the water project, the city plans to raise its water rates by $6.11 per month starting in May 2019. The rate will increase again by $6.11 per month in July 2020, and one final raise of $6.11 in July 2021 for a total of $18.33 a month after the three years. One resident was on hand to voice his objection to the imminent water rate increase.

In other council meeting happenings, two citizens were in attendance to address their concerns over the deteriorating condition of one end of the alley off Pollock Street. The residents reported a Cadillac Escalade drove through it on Friday night after the heavy rains, rutting out the east end of the muddy alley even more. These same residents have reported at previous council meetings that the whole East end of the alley is muddy and rutted out, and have requested that their end of the alley be closed to through traffic. The council reported it can't legally close the alley because it is a public right-of-way. However, it is not officially an open alley either, because it is only partially graveled on one end and is not maintained by the city.

The council did advise that the citizens may start a petition, which would require that all adjoining landowners agree that the alley needs closed. If a petition were to be agreed upon by all parties adjacent to the alley, the city could then take an action by holding a public hearing to close the alley, or part of the alley. However, council agreed that closing the entire alley is not an option as there are some garages at the west end of it behind Domino's, that can only be accessed via the alley entrance.

In police matters, Chief Bob Kendle reported the city is still waiting on tags for the new cruiser from the state DMV. He also reporte the city will be purchasing two portable radios for the police department, thanks to a donation to the city from a local oil and gas company.

The council voted to approve all city bills for payment. The council also approved a motion to set the spring burning season for April 15 to May 15. Any resident wishing to open burn must come to the municipal building to obtain a permit from the city.

The council approved a motion to purchase a new battery backup for the city building's security camera system at the estimated cost of $130, and the council also approved Kim Frum and Julie Efaw as Ballot Commissioners for the June election.

The council also approved the 2019-2020 fiscal year budget at its March 4 meeting.



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