Village water quality under increased scrutiny

By Jon Delozier -

Inspections by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in February came and went with no violations, Wellington water superintendent Mark Rosemark told village council Monday.

“These inspections are done every three years and look at both the water plant and our distribution systems,” he said. “The EPA wants every community to have a one-day supply of fresh water ready in case of an emergency and we currently have a two-day supply.”

Water infrastructure is coming under increased scrutiny in the aftermath of mass poisonings of the water supply in Flint, Mich., as well as Ohio’s own questions regarding public safety. Sebring, Ohio, faced a crisis regarding lead in its water early this year, and failure in communicating those dangers to the public in a timely manner.

“Mistakes were made in Sebring, but it was minor league compared to what happened in Flint,” he said. “Every system in Ohio is on board with any new regulations and procedures. Public access to this sort of information is a good thing.”

According to Rosemark, the village is also taking steps to combat recent Lake Erie algae blooms that pose their own unique threat to public water supplies.

“Last Summer’s bloom was the worst that I can remember, and it’s prompted a national movement toward greatly increased sampling,” said Rosemark. “Our new sample site plan was put in place April 1 and it falls in line with other systems in Ohio. Every surface water system in the state is subject to this increased algae testing.”

Pumping to fill the village’s 1.4 billion gallon reservoir will end in late April to early May, he said.

“It’s not unusual for us for our pumping season to go into May,” he said. “We are very selective on when we pump. We pump until it’s full and then stop. That’s a luxury and convenience for our village that many cities and villages don’t enjoy. It is much better to rely on a set pumping schedule rather than a sporadic one throughout the year.”

Rosemark was also very adamant in his praise for Ron Novotny, the village’s water meter technician and backflow representitive. “Ron’s backflow program has become a template that other communities are following, as well as something that the EPA is using as the good example in their presentations in other cities.”

Novotny returned the kind words to his superintendent.

“I can only be as good as the free rein given to me by Mark,” he said. “Mark gives me the ability to enact the good ideas that he brings before council. My backflow program started as me simply gathering ideas that I heard at roundtable meetings in places like Cleveland, Elyria, and Avon Lake. Our goal first and foremost is always public safety, and the EPA considers Wellington to be head and shoulders above the current standard for water systems in Ohio, and Ohio is a state with one of the more strenuous set of standards in the country.”

Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.

By Jon Delozier