Montgomery County says drinking water is safe despite Ohio EPA violations

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The Ohio EPA cited Montgomery County for violation of reporting PH numbers for country drinking water.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Montgomery County Environmental Services admitted it did not correctly test pH levels at some sites, but says your water is safe to drink.

Post cards mailed by the county indicated it was in violation of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules, but insists the primary measurement for safety, lead and copper levels, are fine. The county gets its water supply from the City of Dayton, and says pH levels are a secondary measurement for measuring safety.

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Brianna Wooten, a communications coordinator for Montgomery County Environmental Services, says the county agreed to hold itself to a higher standard for pH levels decades ago. According to Wooten, the EPA requires a minimum 7.0 pH level, the county requires at least a 7.8.

"Because we weren't aware of how we were supposed to be testing, because, like I said, there's no permitting process for this. All I can say is it was not clearly delineated to us from the Ohio EPA and it wasn't passed down from previous staff, so it just got lost. There's no issue with the water, like I said. The water's fine," Wooten told News Center 7's Kate Bartley.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Montgomery County said its drinking water is safe on Thursday, July 5, 2018. The county's water had been cited for violations by the Ohio EPA.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

According to the U.S. EPA, pH levels can affect the way water tastes and smells. Levels that are too low can cause a bitter, metallic taste and potential corrosion. Levels that are too high can cause a soda-like taste and deposits in the water.

The Ohio EPA says the county did not correctly test for pH in dozens of cases from 2016 to 2017, and cannot be sure of the quality of the drinking water during that time. The EPA required the county to send out notices in order to fix the problem, which Wooten says cost more than $30,000. The county must also submit that notice and verification form, monitor water quality according to an EPA table, and maintain optimal water quality control parameters.

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Wooten says the county will be testing the pH more frequently now and did not intentionally try to break any rules.

"None of our staff was aware of this level or the testing parameters and how they were doing it and I think this is probably a more widespread issue than the EPA has perhaps understood or realized."

Failure to comply with the requirements could lead the EPA to fine the county $25,000 per violation per day.