Affected Sebring residents show up for free bottled water

Affected Sebring residents show up for free bottled water
Water fountain inside a school in the Sebring School District. (Source: WKBN)
Water fountain inside a school in the Sebring School District. (Source: WKBN)
Water samples in Sebring, OH being tested. (Source: WKBN)
Water samples in Sebring, OH being tested. (Source: WKBN)

SEBRING, OH (WOIO) - The water crisis in Sebring moves into its 7th day. Last week, city officials revealed high levels of lead were found in the water supply of some homes and businesses. Schools reopened Wednesday after being closed for three days.

Thursday, a steady stream of residents came to the Sebring Community Center to receive their one gallon per day, per person ration.  Much of the water being distributed was donated by Giant Eagle and Home Depot.

Earlier, there were very specific criteria laid out for who could receive the bottled water, but that was quickly changed by the city manager. Now, all you need is to show proof that you live in Sebring.

Two water fountains at the local high school tested positive for lead. High levels of lead were also found in some homes and nearby businesses.

Linda Larkins says she hasn't been drinking Sebring's water for some time and that she's suspicious that the problem may be worse than what meets the eye.

"Here in the summer, I got a letter from the water people, and they are telling you that certain things in the water causes cancer so on and so on. Well, on my block alone, there has been three to four teenagers that have had cancer, and I have had seven dogs who have died of cancer in the past five years," said Larkins.

Five children have tested positive for lead.

City council members said on Monday they just found out about the problem, but that the city manager knew the EPA was investigating since last summer. City manager Richard Giroux says he was not aware that this was a crisis situation until January 21st.

The good news at this point: the Village of Sebring water treatment plant is said to be safe with no detectable lead.  

That fact doesn't seem to be making many residents feel any more confident in their water supply.  

"So, no I do not trust this water. I don't trust the lead in it. I don't trust whatever else is in it," added Larkins.

The Sebring Community Center will be open for water distribution again on Friday from 8am-5pm, and Saturday from 9am-1pm. Monday hours are still being determined.

The city is offering water to affected customers. Each qualifying person in a household will receive the equivalent of one gallon, per person, per day not to exceed a supply of 6 days.

Criteria to receive water:
Current resident of impacted area (Sebring Water Customer, MUST show proof)
Fall within the targeted demographics
Pregnant women
Children in the household, ages 0-6
Current businesses of impacted area (Sebring Water Customer, MUST show proof)
Households and businesses that test OK on water quality will become ineligible

The distribution center is located in the Sebring Community Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Special needs requests please contact City Hall 330-938-9340.

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