Water Issue Main Topic at Franklin General Authority Meeting

| February 16, 2018

FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) – The city’s ongoing water issue was the main topic of discussion at Thursday night’s Franklin General Authority Advisory Board meeting.

Council Chairperson Ann Rudegeair opened up the meeting by welcoming the citizens who attended and giving a summary of recent issues with Franklin’s water.

Rudegeair explained the timeline of events with the first report on Thursday, February 1, from a Third Ward resident who complained of a blue stain in the laundry tub and a blue stain on their laundry. City staff and engineers met to determine the cause of the lone incident to see if it was related to the city’s system. There were no additional complaints to the city until late in the evening of February 6 and early morning on February 7 when there were reports of either bluish or brownish water being pumped. Again, city staff and engineers continued to work together to determine the cause. February 8 was when the issue started to peak. Five calls were received from Third Ward residents: four reports of blue or green water, and one report of someone who had thrown up after taking a full glass of water.

At this point, the city immediately called DEP (Department of Environmental Protection), and it was diagnosed that it was probably coming from one of two of the industrial plants that service that area – Franklin Bronze or Franklin Industries. (Later testing determined that the problem existed in another area.)

This was when the city issued the “Do Not Drink Water” warning to the targeted area, according to Rudegeair.

Upon inspecting the water flow, it was determined there was a malfunction of one of the valves, testing of the water was performed, and elevated levels of fluoride were discovered. It was noted that the tests were city tests and not certified testing by the DEP. Throughout this time, water for all purposes was provided for the residents in the affected area at Franklin Fire Department.

Rudegeair stated that some of the staff at Barrett Flats noticed that there was a pump that was not functioning – a pump that put the flow of fluoride into the system. There were three different malfunctions with the pump which allowed elevated amounts of fluoride into the system. They cut off the fluoride flow from the two pumps – one in each plant – and began to flush the lines, and continued to take tests, Rudegeair explained.

Rudegeair stated that they still weren’t sure whether this was the cause of the water issue, but the city continued to work with DEP.

On the morning of February 9, it was determined that the problem was not within the industrial plants, and DEP suggested that the problem was probably the fluoride, according to Rudegeair.

On February 14, DEP notified the City of Franklin that they violated their requirements to notify them within one hour of the incident.

In a previous article on exploreVenango.com the City of Franklin updated the public on the water issue stating the system recently violated a drinking water standard, and the city failed to notify the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) within the required time frame. The city had already notified the DEP of the discoloration when they discovered the fluoride contamination and did not report the updated findings within the required time frame. City officials are currently investigating why the malfunction was not reported to the DEP in a timely manner.

Rudegeair stated that the General Authority is currently working on a detailed report for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that is to be completed by February 26. The report will detail exactly what occurred, what steps were taken, and further steps that are being taken to prevent an issue like this from occurring again. The full report will be made available to the public on the city’s website.

WATER OPERATIONS

Fred Leyda, Water Department Supervisor, said the current operations are focused on the flushing of the system, continuing to take and monitor samples, and the dumping and refilling of the tanks to continue the dilution of the water. He noted the fluoride levels in the samples have been lowering. He also indicated that the broken pump at the 9th Street Treatment Plant was repaired on Tuesday.

The discussion then turned to the possibility of a new fluoride monitoring system, with a built-in fail-safe system. Leyda is currently checking pricing on systems, though he estimated that it would probably cost about $10,000.00 for the two treatment plants.

A motion was passed to have Leyda pursue the purchase of the new equipment.

BOTTLED WATER AVAILABILITY

Fire Chief James Wetzel asked the board how they would like to proceed with the bottled water they’ve been providing to residents since the fluoride issue with the city’s water was discovered. He related that as of 5:30 p.m. Thursday, they have handed out nearly 5,000 cases of water.

The board instructed him to continue handing out water as needed until the city’s water has been officially declared back within safe parameters by the DEP.

Cases of bottled water continue to be available to affected residents at the Franklin Fire Department. Anyone unable to get to the fire department can call the city at 814-437-1485 to arrange for delivery.

ENERGY AUDIT

Council Chairperson Ann Rudegeair proposed a level two energy audit, a more comprehensive audit of the city’s energy use. The cost of this project would be $17,475.00; however, Rudegeair noted there is a grant available that could cover half of the cost. A motion was passed to move forward on the audit.

UTILITIES MAPPING PROJECT

Utility Coordinator Eric Fenske spoke about the current utilities mapping project, which has been moving forward. He believes he will reach his goal of having the entirety of the first and second ward mapped by June of this year.

ELK STREET SEWER PROJECT

Bids have been received from several contractors for a sewer repair project near the intersection of Elk Street and 3rd Street. A motion was passed to move forward with the project.

Water System Update February 15, 2018


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