Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Loveland testing of water invalid



By Sheila McLaughlin
Enquirer Staff Writer

LOVELAND - The city's use of a noncertified analyst to test its drinking water from December through May has resulted in a notice of violation from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

The agency said it can't accept the city's results that the water was free from coliform bacteria because the analyst did not have proper certification. State officials are requiring the city to send out notices to water customers by mid-August, saying Loveland did not conduct the required monitoring for coliform for six months.

City officials, however, said the water is safe because it tested negative for coliform each time. No one has reported getting sick from the bacteria, which can cause serious illness in children, the elderly and people with immune disorders. Tests several times a week since May have been negative for coliform.

Assistant city manager Tom Carroll characterized the violation as a technicality, but said the city was to blame. The city has since changed testing companies.

The problem occurred when the city hired a new firm to conduct water quality testing last fall.

The chosen firm, Q Laboratories of South Fairmount, gathered the required samples weekly and tested them for coliform, but the city did not have a written contract or any agreement that the work was to be done by a certified analyst, Carroll said.

"That's our mistake. They are a certified lab with a certified technician, they just did not have that person test our water."

Heather Lauer, OEPA spokeswoman, said certification is required because it guarantees a level of competency. The agency ignores results of tests that are not performed by a certified analyst, she said.

What type of tests the city expected from Q Laboratories is a matter of dispute.

Carroll said it should have been clear that the city wanted tests that met OEPA standards because they sought out a certified firm.

Company president Dave Goins said he dealt personally with former public works superintendent Joe Geers to set up the water analysis, but was told the city did not want certified testing. The company offers both types of testing, he said.

"We told them right off the bat there was no way the EPA was going to accept this," he said.

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E-mail smclaughlin@enquirer.com




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