Vienna council discusses C8 water emergency

May 21, 2016
By JEFFREY SAULTON ([email protected]) , Parkersburg News and Sentinel

VIENNA – In light of changes in the federal guidelines regarding acceptable levels of C8 in drinking water, a special meeting of Vienna City Council was called Friday to let the public know what is being done to provide drinking water.

Prior to Thursday, the established health advisory threshold was .4 parts per billion, but in a surprise announcement the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lowered that level to .07 parts per billion.

Under the old guidelines the water supply for the city was deemed safe; however, with the change tap water from the Vienna Water Department is now considered not safe.

From left, Harold Bock and Dr. Paul Brooks, advisers for Keep Your Promises DuPont, before the start of the emergency Vienna City Council meeting. Keep Your Promises is providing information on C8 at KeepYourPromisesDuPont.com. (Photo by Jess Mancini)

 

Mayor Randy Rapp said the ultimate goal is to install carbon filters. However, he said filter installation could take up to three months since one would be needed at each of the three well fields. He said the cost could be between $2 million and $4 million at each site.

Rapp said the city is working with an engineering firm to work out the details of the filters or to tie in with the City of Parkersburg’s water system.

Manpower is a problem the city is facing in distributing water, he said.

Fact Box

Water Pickup Locations

Drinking water may be obtained at the sites listed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily

* Grand Central Mall parking lot, near Sears.

* Spencer’s Landing, the former Johns Manville site, on River Road between 32nd and 28th streets.

* Vienna Utility Board garage behind 210 60th St.

* The elderly or those in need of special arrangements to obtain water should call the City of Vienna at 304-295-4541 or 304-295-4543.

“We hit one snag; we were turned down for help from the National Guard,” Rapp said. “We are working to see if they will reconsider.”

Since the water stations need to have someone available seven days a week, 12 hours a day, Rapp said, it will strain the city’s budget to keep the stations open and for overnight security when the stations are closed.

“We are going to incur a lot of overtime to keep those watering stations open, so we have to be prepared for that,” he said. “The Red Cross informed us the health department has a list of 100 people to help and we are going to utilize those volunteer lists starting next week.”

Rapp said estimates are a city the size of Vienna needs about 70,000 gallons of water every day, which works out to one-and-a-half gallons per person, plus they will also have to provide water to their customers in Boaz.

“The reality of this situation is it is going to be a fairly lengthy process,” Rapp said. “We are looking at a minimum of six weeks to two months before we can take the water tanks out; there is no quick fix for this. If we could establish the interconnection with Parkersburg that would help and we have the option of bringing in temporary carbon filters but we would have to alter our piping so we can interrupt the system and then chlorinate the water after it goes through the filters.”

Rapp said carbon filters available to consumers are not recommended to remove C8 from the water due to differences in the systems since there is a change in how effective they are over time.

Chemours has donated 10,000 cases of bottled water and they are expected to arrive at 5 a.m. today at the Vienna Utility Board building at 210 60th St., Rapp said. In addition two tractor-trailer loads of bottled water are expected to arrive by Monday from the Salvation Army from Florida.

Dr. Paul Brooks, adviser to Keep Your Promises DuPont, addressed city council Friday.

Brooks said the group launched a website, keepyourpromisesdupont.com, in January to provide information on C8 and its health effects.

“There is only one clear course to eliminate the problem and that is filtration that has been alluded to here,” he said. “In addition, Vienna residents should be qualified some way to have medical monitoring.”

Brooks said the filters and medical monitoring are crucial steps for the future.

“Even though the C8 may be removed from the water it’s still in the individual,” he said.

Brooks commended city officials for the steps they are taking in the situation.

Vienna resident Christy Stivers was one of those who picked up water at Spencer’s Landing Friday afternoon. Stivers works for a local food business and said it had affected how she does her job.

“We have to stop and remember not to use tap water for food or to clean our utensils,” she said.

As her two water cans were being filled, Stivers said she was glad she kept them at home for emergencies.

Rapp said the city has been told the water is usable for everything but food preparation.

“Our system is 100 percent functional, our fire service in complete; you are still able to shower, use the restroom and all other activities where you use water,” he said. “We have set up stations for residents to get water and we are working to acquire bottled water so our seniors and anyone with disabilities we can take the water to them.”

Rapp said the distribution will continue as long as the C8 levels in the water are above the .07 parts per billion.

Rapp said the city has received technical assistance from Chemours to either install filtration systems at the well fields or to connect to the water supply from the City of Parkersburg.

“The City of Parkersburg has set up a system for us to reload from their water system,” he said. “Their system is below the levels. Some of our tankers are 10,000 gallons and some are only 3,000 gallons. We feel we have an adequate supply to provide our customers with the water they need.”

Restaurants in Vienna are open but following directives from the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department. Rapp said the health department told him the sanitarians have gone to the restaurants and explained the rules of the directive to the staff of each restaurant.