BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio (WTRF)- Bridgeport drinking water has been deemed unsafe to use by the Ohio EPA after chemical tests results have come back above Action Level. It is still unknown how the chemical got into the system or how long it has been there. PFAS, the chemical found in the water, is acceptable to bathe and wash your hands with. Specifically, C-9 PFNA is what registered above Action Level. The Superintendent tells me some residents will continue to consume the water but it is not suggested.
Today, they are backwashing the system to clear it. And tomorrow, the entire system including fire hydrants will be flushed. The Bridgeport Water Department is doing everything they can to make sure residents have fresh water, parking a truck a 4,000 gallon water truck ready to be distributed until things are be fixed.
PFAS is a chemical found in everyday use items and is harmful if ingested. You are recommended not to drink, cook, or brush your teeth with the water in Bridgeport. Boiling or freezing it will not reduce contamination.
Bridgeport Water Superintendent, James Zorbini, told 7News “I don’t have any idea, I don’t know how it got there you know it had to come through the groundwater because we’re on wells but where it came from and how it got here I have no clue. We know we got clean water going through the system now but we want to make sure by flushing that we get any pockets of contaminated water out.”
300 Ohio communities have recently been tested and 17 have come back positive for PFAS. Bridgeport is the only place above Action Level. Two out of their five wells exceed the standard, which are not in use now. The other three are pumping out clean water currently. Bridgeport Water Works does not have the equipment to treat the water, which is done either by reverse osmosis or granular activated carbon. It is more effective to source the water from Martins Ferry than to treat it.
Zorbini said “but this is something we’ve never tested for and we’re not capable of even testing it it’s a very complicated process if you saw the crew that came in here from the Ohio EPA they really had a regiment they had to do.” He told 7News that he is skeptical that it’ll be status quo forever since it is groundwater, and the origin remains unknown.
Right now, the village is working with an engineering firm and the EPA on a contingency plan. A temporary and a long-term, both which will involve getting water from Martins Ferry. The plan may involve constructing a new pipe suitable for a long-term connection to account for consistent volume if the results of the PFAS tests never improve. The Ohio EPA and Vaughn Engineering are working with the village on the contingency plan. There is already a connection between Bridgeport and Martins Ferry but another one may need to be built as part of a potential long-term solution.
Zorbini added, “it’s a financial burden to the village we’re a small system and everything we’re going to do and have to do costs us money, EPA is talking about trying to help us with maybe some emergency grants, some emergency loans.”
Bridgeport is providing clean water by truck and bottled water at their treatment facility until everything is fixed. Residents are advised to bring a jug and fill up. It is recommended to speak with a doctor or the state health department if you’re concerned about your health.
The Superintendent is tying to put the welfare of the citizens first, “only thing I tried to do is react as quickly and as appropriately as possible with guidance from the Ohio EPA and we’ve been staying in constant communication.”
The Ohio EPA will be back to test again later this week and they will continue to test every month going forward. Fresh, clean water will be available at Bridgeport Water Works on Route 7 North everyday this week from 7:00 AM until 3:00 PM. Bring your own jug to fill up. We’ll keep you updated on all of the coming test results. Call the water department at (740)-635-2424 for more information as they do sell their water to other locations outside of the village of Bridgeport itself within Belmont County (they sell water to the village of Brookside and Lansing). The Belmont County Health Department can be reached at (740)-695-1202.
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