Franklin Violated Drinking Water Standard By Failing to Notify DEP in Timely Manner

| February 15, 2018

FRANKLIN, Pa. (EYT) – The City of Franklin recently violated the drinking water standard by failing to notify the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) of the fluoride contamination in the appropriate time period.

On Wednesday afternoon, the City of Franklin issued an update on the water situation, stating: “Our water system recently violated a drinking water standard, and we 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.

According to the DEP website, “When a water supplier discovers that a treatment chemical has been overfed, they must notify DEP within one hour to report the appropriate responses and to determine whether PN should be issued.”

City officials are currently investigating why the malfunction was not reported to the DEP in a timely manner.

Franklin city officials and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection representatives have been working together on the issues with Franklin’s water since late last week. In a previous article, Franklin City Manager Tracy Jamieson shared further details about the cause of the issues with water, and the steps being taken to correct the situation.

According to information released by the city, they received the first complaint about blue discoloration of the water on Thursday, February 1, and then received multiple complaints on Thursday, February 8. On February 8, Franklin city officials issued the “Do Not Use Water” notice.

In their first information release to the public, released on February 13 (available in our previous coverage), the city said they believed the malfunction releasing the excess fluoride occurred “on or about February 1,” while the latest release states, “On or about February 7th, 2018, we believe an over-feed of fluoride was introduced into the Franklin Water System through the Barrett Flats Water Treatment Plant.” The reason for this change remains unclear.

Melanie Williams, DEP Community Relations Coordinator, told, “The City of Franklin has suspended feeding fluoride at both drinking water treatment plants, and they are continuing to flush the drinking water system in order to remove any potential pockets of water with elevated fluoride from the entire system including storage tanks.”

“After the City of Franklin flushes the system, multiple drinking water samples obtained over multiple days must be tested by an accredited laboratory to show fluoride within normal ranges before the department will agree that a ‘Problem Correct Notice’ can be issued.”

According to Williams, “The department is waiting on confirmation of laboratory sampling results but continues to take field measurements. Analytical data will be available once it is compiled and confirmed.”

When asked if the DEP will be considering taking any actions against the City of Franklin, Williams responded, “This incident is under investigation. When the investigation is complete, the department will determine the appropriate next steps.”

The city’s latest update also listed the most recent fluoride levels measured at the time of the release, on Wednesday, February 14:

– Cauvel’s Office: .32 mg/L
– Caring Place: .49 mg/L
– Franklin YMCA: .27 mg/L
– Central Elementary School: .12 mg/L
– Seventh Street School: .32 mg/L
– Water Works tanks: .27 mg/L
– Rocky Grove High School Cafeteria: .87 mg/L
– Save A Lot: .74 mg/L
– Oak Hill Apartments Recreation Center: 2.0+ mg/L
– Third Street Water garage: .69 mg/L
– Oak Hill tank: .46 mg/L
– 33 Gilfillan Street: 1.05 mg/L
– Child Development Center, 12th Street: .26 mg/L
– City Hall: .23 mg/L
– 112 Circle Street: .81 mg/L
– Giant Eagle: 2.0+ mg/L
– 1145 Elk Street: .20 mg/L

The specific levels at the elevated locations, Oak Hill Apartments Recreation Center and Giant Eagle, were not released. The update also noted that these levels are uncertified. View the full update here.

As reported earlier, Pennsylvania’s maximum allowable level is 2 mg/L, but since Franklin’s normal level is .9 mg/L, the DEP considers anything over .9 mg/L to be elevated.

The city is making efforts to get all levels below .9mg/L.

According to the City of Franklin, “Levels, for the most part, have been decreasing since this event occurred. For those areas that are still higher than what we want, we will continue to flush the lines and we ask that residences in those high pocket areas to let their water run throughout their residences or places of business for 15 to 30 minutes.”

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