Camden must connect to water district, Ohio EPA says

CAMDEN, Preble County — The village of Camden must connect to the Southwest Regional Water District to replace the village’s present salt-contaminated drinking water well field, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

In a letter dated Wednesday, Aug. 25, the agency instructed village officials to connect to the water district no later than Sept. 30.

“They have agreed and they are getting ready to move forward and begin talks with Southwest Regional about how they can get that accomplished,” said Heather Lauer, an Ohio EPA spokeswoman, on Thursday, Aug. 26.

Southwest Regional’s water system extends north into Preble County and terminates southeast of Camden, said Norma Pennock, the water district’s operations manager.

One option would be to use temporary pipe above ground to connect the fire hydrant at that termination point to the nearest hydrant on the Camden system, which is about 3,000 to 3,500 feet away, Pennock said.

Another option would be to dig a trench and permanently connect to the existing water pipe below ground, she said.

“In some manner there will be a sanitary, metered interconnection that lets us measure how much we send to them and lets us make sure that nothing can flow backwards,” Pennock said.

A cost estimate for the project is not yet available. “The cost burden will be bourne by the village,” Pennock said.

Camden Mayor Sylvanis Gunter Jr. could not be reached for comment.

The Ohio EPA on Aug. 20 issued approval of a site for Camden to investigate at a possible alternate well field, but initial taps into the ground yielded insufficient amounts of water, Lauer said.

Runoff from a large road salt pile is presumed to be the source of current contamination, according to Ohio EPA officials. The salt is owned by Cargill Inc. and Central Salt.

Water in one of the village’s three wells has too much salt and brine for drinking, Lauer said. A second well in current use is experiencing rising salt levels. The third well is not being used to avoid potential contamination.

The wells serve about 2,500 residents, Lauer said.

Camden’s water is considered safe to drink, but the village has been supplying bottled water to residents who don’t like the taste since salt entered the drinking water system in late July, according to Ohio EPA officials.

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