Rep. Turner’s water quality panel hires consultant to study Dayton-area water

A Michigan-based environmental engineering consulting firm will spend the next nine months reviewing the city of Dayton’s water quality and infrastructure in an effort to determine current and future conditions.

At the conclusion of its Water Quality and Infrastructure Review, LimnoTech will give area leaders an understanding of what they are doing well in terms of the water system, areas of improvement and how they should address those areas, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner said during a news conference Friday at which he and his Water Quality Committee announced they’ve hired the firm.

“We understand that (water) is one of the most important resources for the community, not just for the health and welfare of the community, but also an economic resource,” said Turner, R-Dayton. “We want to ensure that we have the appropriate investment and infrastructure, and that we’re delivering quality water to the community.”

Related: What Dayton learned after the unprecedented water outage 1 year ago

The congressman formed the panel in 2019, after two local water emergencies — a 36-inch water main breaking in the middle of the Great Miami River near the Keowee Street Bridge in February, and the Memorial Day tornadoes. Each time, numerous residents were left without clean drinking water for several days.

The water quality panel is a joint effort that includes the city of Dayton, Montgomery County and regional business, institutional and community leaders. Nearly every organization represented on the committee made a financial contribution to pay for LimnoTech’s services, Turner said.

Limnotech’s fee is nearly $90,000, and commitee members have pledge $94,000 toward the consulting feel. The three government entities represented on the committee — cities of Dayton and Trotwood and Montgomery County — will contribute a combined $50,000, said Tom Raga, a Dayton Power & Light executive who Turner tapped to lead the committee.

Montgomery County said it’s agreed to contribute $20,000 and the city of Dayton will add $25,000 if the city commission approves.

Officials are hoping to finalize the contract with LimnoTech “very soon,” and the consulting work will begin soon after that, said Mike Ekberg of the Miami Conservancy District. The MCD, which is represented on the committee, will work closely with LimnoTech to manage the project.

Manmade contaminants known as PFAS — polyfluoroalkyl substances — were detected in the the drinking water in Dayton and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base about four years ago. PFAS include various types of substances known as PFOA, PFOS and GenX. Studies suggest that exposure to the chemical might affect pregnancy, increase cholesterol levels and cause some forms of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Related: Dayton Drinking Water Safety: How healthy is the local aquifer

Dayton has taken steps to address the contaminants as well as its aging water infrastructure, which is more than a century old. Of the $17 million city leaders plan to invest in water infrastructure, $9.5 million will go toward pipes and $5.5 million to the city’s plants, Water Director Michael Powell has said. Since 2013, the city has awarded $175 million in capital projects on the water and sewer system.

Although the city has done a lot of work on its infrastructure, LimnoTech is looking forward to working with them to give the officials a road map for sustaining the water infrastructure in the future, said Carrie Turner, a senior project manager with LimnoTech.

Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein, a member of the committee, said the city’s looking forward to working with the firm.

“We’re very excited to participate in the Water Quality Committee,” she said. “Having been the producer of water for 150 years, we are always eager to have others come look over our shoulders, make sure that we haven’t missed anything in the management of this important asset and also to have the information about going forward.”

In its final report, which is expected by the end of this year, LimnoTech will provide:

  • A summary of historical water utility performance as outlined in previous master plans, studies and reports conducted within the last 10 years.
  • An evaluation of the adequacy of the overall managerial, operational and maintenance practices relative to water quality and infrastructure.
  • An evaluation of the adequacy of water utility emergency preparedness and its ability to serve the region with respect to water storage, redundancy, backup supply and emergency power.
  • An evaluation of adequacy of source water supply and management, including existing programming to protect the source, volume and quality.
  • An evaluation of the current level of regional cooperation between the Dayton water utility and other water systems serving the region to ensure customers, throughout the region, receive the highest quality water from reliable and resilient systems.
  • Recommendations on system improvements based on utility best practices.
  • Recommendations to any other interconnected water utility, state or local jurisdiction or private industry within the scope of this study that the Consultant considers relevant to maintaining the long-term water quality of the Dayton region.

When the report’s complete, the committee will hand it off to community leaders and the community, Raga said.

“I’m looking forward to the report,” he said. “This is only the beginning.”

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