Camden in emergency water supply situation, state says

CAMDEN, Preble County — The village of Camden must come up with a way to supply its residents with drinkable water by Oct. 30 or potentially lose its license to operate a water system, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said.

Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski said Tuesday that the situation in Camden has reached a critical point.

“This is an emergency and should be taken seriously,” Korleski said. “Ohio EPA will continue to work with local officials to appropriately deal with this situation. However, village leaders need to move quickly to find a solution that provides safe drinking water to the residents of Camden.”

Two of three village wells are not usable because of contamination from large road salt piles that have tainted the well field. A third well is now going bad, the OEPA said.

Two weeks ago, it appeared the village of about 800 households had a solution when Mayor Gunter Sylvanis, Jr., agreed on behalf of the village to tie in to the Southwest Regional Water District’s system, a connection that was estimated to cost $1.2 million, with possible financial help from the state. Camden village council agreed.

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On Friday, however, the council reversed itself and told Ohio EPA that the village would break off that plan. OEPA said the village did not say what its plans are to provide potable water. Currently, the village is providing at least two gallons of bottled water a day to each household.

Mayor Sylvanis said Tuesday he has “been in agreement with the state 100 percent” and that plans remain on the drawing board. He wouldn’t comment directly on council’s decision, but said financing for the connection is a concern.

OEPA spokeswoman Heather Lauer said the agency believes that two giant road salt piles north of the village’s well field are contaminating the wells. The piles were installed in the past five years or so. Commodities giant Cargill owns one and Central Salt owns the other. Both are managed by Rod Good, president of Good Trucking. OEPA has ordered Good to cease the salt contamination as well as determine how extensive it is. Good did not return a call for comment. Additionally, OEPA could order Good to remediate the contamination.

Lauer said a state-funded water protection study in July 2002 informed the village that the area where the piles would later be located needed to be protected. In 2009, OEPA received a complaint that the salt piles had been placed in the sensitive area and issued a notice to the village.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-7407 or sbennish@DaytonDailyNews.com.

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