Vienna adapting to water situation

Rapp: At least six weeks to start temp filter

May 24, 2016
By EVAN BEVINS ([email protected]) , Parkersburg News and Sentinel

VIENNA – Schools, businesses and residents are adjusting to the “do-not-drink” advisory issued for city water last week after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lowered its recommended lifetime exposure level to C8.

A water distribution station for Vienna water customers in Boaz opened Monday, and Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp said engineers began work on plans for a carbon filtration system to be paid for by Chemours, which was spun off from DuPont last year.

“The temporary ones will be much faster (to installl), but they are the same quality,” Rapp said. “Then they (Chemours) will build permanent facilities, and then we will move this equipment into permanent facilities.”

Vienna Wendy’s manager John Morehead pours Dr. Pepper from a two-liter bottle into a cup Monday. Customers are being offered drinks from bottles if they have concerns about beverages from the soft drink machine, which still uses City of Vienna water. The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department issued a ‘do-not-drink’ advisory last week regarding the municipal water in light of a revised EPA advisory regarding the presence of C8 in water. (Photo by Evan Bevins)


Rapp said it will be at least six weeks until the temporary system is up and running.

C8, also known as perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, was used for years in the Teflon production process at the Washington Works site, formerly owned by DuPont and now by Chemours. Studies have linked C8 exposure to kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension including preeclampsia and hypercholesterolemia.

Prior to Thursday, the EPA’s health advisory for C8 in water was 0.4 parts per billion. The agency revised the lifetime exposure level, based on protection for the sensitive populations of fetuses during pregnancy and breastfed infants, to 0.07 ppb.

In recent tests, most of Vienna’s wells registered a concentration of around 0.1 ppb.

Vienna water customers in Boaz can pick up bottled water from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Family Carpet on West Virginia 14, Rapp said. Other water stations, open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., are located at Spencer’s Landing (the former Johns Manville property), Grand Central Mall and the Vienna Utility Board garage behind 210 60th St.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department issued the “do-not-drink” advisory Thursday. Restaurants are being encouraged to use bottled water or water from the tankers the city is supplying to prepare food, said Carrie Brainard, public information specialist for the health department.

It is a recommendation, not a requirement, but Brainard said restaurants that choose to continue using city water are asked to post a sign letting patrons know they are doing so.

“That way, people can choose whether they have a concern about it or not,” she said.

Brainard said local restaurant personnel have been “very pleasant” about the situation.

“We have complied with the recommendations … that the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department has asked us to take,” said Terry Ringer, franchise owner of East of Chicago Pizza in Vienna.

Ray Blackburn, owner of multiple Wendy’s restaurants in the region, said the Vienna location upped its usual order of bottled water and is bringing in fresh water to prepare its produce and make chili and lemonade. The only aspect of the operation still connected to city water in terms of food preparation and beverages is the soft drink machine, he said.

“Any customer that does not want to use that machine, we have the two-liters that we will pour from at no additional cost and will continue to do our refills,” Blackburn said.

Rapp said he’s pleased with the response from the city’s restaurants and the business they’re doing.

“They all seem to be busy,” he said. “I’m sure that there’s been an impact, but it’s better than I expected it to be.”

Jim Oppe, owner of local Foodland stores including the Vienna location, said bottled water is still in demand, despite the distribution efforts.

“A lot of folks are still buying gallons of water and those things,” he said. “It’s still stayed pretty steady.”

Neale Elementary, one of four Vienna schools closed Friday due to the water advisory, was operating as normal Monday.

Principal Linda Brunicardi said that over the weekend, Wood County Schools advised administrators on how to cover up water fountains and faucets and brought in hand sanitizer and bottled water.

The school also is using one of six water buffalos, large tanker trucks filled with water, to provide clean, drinkable water to the school’s cafeteria for cleaning and food preparation.

“We’re just going on with our day as normal, and we’re fortunate we only have five days of school left,” Brunicardi said. The school year ends this Friday. “Hopefully the situation will be resolved before we return to school in August.”

Greenmont Elementary, Vienna Elementary and Jackson Middle School also are using bottled and trucked-in water to meet their needs this week.

Assistant Superintendent Mike Fling said Monday that officials were trying to determine exactly how much bottled water needs to be brought in daily, basing their estimates off two bottles of water per person per day.

“Delivering bottled water to a school every day is no small feat,” he said, “especially when you have schools receiving 36 cases of water or more each time.”

Fling said officials on Monday also were determining whether they’ll have to send the water buffalos stationed at each school to be refilled at some point this week.

“They’re between 400-600 gallons each,” he said. “We were hoping that would get us through the whole week, but at this point we’re not sure.”

(Staff writer Michael Erb contributed to this story.)