Salem maintains water is safe; what about fluoride, one resident asks

SALEM – The city recently violated the maximum level of disinfectant by-product known as TTHM in the drinking water again, but not enough to pose a health risk, a public notice said.

“The water is safe,” assistant Superintendent Matt Hoopes said.

Notices about the violation were included in customer bills this week, but Hoopes said anyone who drinks the water and didn’t receive a notice can pick up a copy at the water office at 231 S. Broadway. Customers don’t need to take any special precautions, according to Hoopes.

TTHM stands for Total Trihalomethanes. The by-products are formed when naturally-occurring organics come into the water supplyand react with the chlorine used as a disinfectant to control contaminants in the water.

The average level of TTHM over the last four quarters was 0.087 mg/L while the maximum allowable level is 0.080 mg/L. At the bottom of the notice, Hoopes noted the city included an explanation.

The violation included results of the sampling location on state Route 45 at Kent State which is in an area where the water system dead-ends. The compliance period included results from July 2013 and October 2013 sampling at that location. The most recent results for that location were 0.036 mg/L, well below the maximum level of 0.080 mg/L.

The city received notice of a similar violation earlier this year, also representing sampling from that location.

The city Utilities Department staff and city Utilities Commission have been working on ways to reduce the TTHM formations by making adjustments during treatment at the water plant and a project to improve flow and circulation at the Stewart Road Reservoir.

The water department and the notice were among the many topics raised by residents during the recent city council meeting. Geoff Johnson spoke out about fluoride in the drinking water and said the city needs to send notices out to warn people about the hazards from fluoride. He said the city needs to take a stand for public safety.

Johnson addressed council in February about fluoride and wanted it taken out of the drinking water, but Utilities Superintendent Don Weingart said the city is required by the state to have certain levels of fluoride in the water.

Johnson also complained about the recent notice regarding the TTHM violation, criticizing a line which asked people to share the information with other people such as those in nursing homes, apartments, businesses or schools. He said the water department should be warning all citizens, not just the ones who receive a water bill.

In other business, State Street resident Dennis Perry said two utility poles were taken down on East Second Street in the area of North Lundy Avenue hearing to North Lincoln Avenue a while ago and he was told by a previous administration that the lights would be put back up and relit but that hasn’t happened.

At the time the lights were taken down, he said there wasn’t much business in the area, but now there is and he was concerned about getting more lighting for the area. He also requested some lighting at the intersection of Butcher Road and East Pershing Street and also at the intersection of Butcher Road and Cunningham Road. He said it’s a highly traveled intersection and needs lit.

Mayor John Berlin said Wednesday that he’ll be referring the light questions to city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst to investigate.

Lisa and Scott Cahill also spoke briefly, with Lisa giving thanks to Income Tax Administrator Fred Pamer for assembling a welcome packet for a new business in town. She also said there’s a lot happening in town, including an effort to re-establish a community garden. Scott suggested council take a look at updating the sign ordinance and talked about some of the businesses going into his buildings on State Street and Second Street.

Berlin asked him how much he’s invested in commercial property in the city. Cahill estimated half a million dollars for the overall investment. As for the remodeling costs, he said he could get that information for the mayor.