County: City water issues put community at risk

DAYTON — City of Dayton Manager Shelley Dickstein said she is “confident that Dayton water remains safe” after Montgomery County expressed concerns that the city wasn’t being open about potential contamination.

“Quality water is a vital resource for all of us,” she said. “...We test and share quarterly information with the EPA. That is the same information we share with Montgomery County.”

The county accused the city of Dayton of breaching its contract for water service by failing to be transparent about potential contamination by man-made chemicals, according to a letter from the county administrator to the Ohio EPA.

The county also said Dayton needs redundancy in its water system and backup generators so that there are not water outages during every natural disaster that put the community at serious risk.

RELATED: Dayton, Montgomery County at odds over water

The Memorial Day tornadoes caused water outages that led to a dangerous and potentially deadly situation because there was inadequate water pressure in the system for firefighting, says the June 11 letter from county Administrator Michael Colbert. The system was not restored for three days.

"We are extremely fortunate that a large fire did not break out during this time, but this was an unacceptable risk," the letter states.

Dickstein said that the city exceeds best practices when it comes to providing providing back up power to water plants.

To provide back up generators would cost approximately $15 million, a price that would be passed on to water customers, she said.

Last year, Dayton and Montgomery County agreed to a contract that says the city will continue to supply water to the county system for 20 years.

City of Dayton officials are scheduled to speak later today about the water dispute.

A city spokeswoman this morning released documents that Dayton says refutes a county claim made Friday that the city had not provided the county with updates about water issues for a year.

On Friday, the county announced a new testing process, but stressed that there is no immediate threat to the water.

RELATED: Dayton, Montgomery County at odds over water

The county’s concerns centered around the impact of per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) contamination in the city of Dayton’s water supply.

Some studies have shown that PFAS exposure may cause health problems such as developmental issues in children, impact fertility, interfere with hormones, cholesterol and the immune system and increase the risk of certain types of cancers.

Environmental Services Director Pat Turnbull said Monday that the county has not received any information from the Ohio EPA that the water is unsafe to drink.

Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert stressed that the issue wasn’t a war between the city and county, but a public health issue that needs to be addressed as a team.

“Water is an essential commodity,” he said.

RELATED: County expresses concern about region’s drinking water quality

Colbert said the goal is to start a constructive conversation with the city about concerns and then move forward with a plan to address them.

“We are hopeful that we can work this out,” he said.

The county wants to bring the EPA in to determine a plan to mitigate PFAS and work out a plan to prevent more from getting into the water system.

Dayton Deputy City Manager Tammi Clements said Friday night in a press conference that Dayton’s water supply is safe.

“Dayton continues at this time, and we believe into the future, to meet and exceed all water quality standards,” Clements said. “Our customers should have absolutely no concerns about the water quality.”

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