BEREA, OH (WOIO) - When Berea announced Thursday two of 15 water samples tested positive for lead above the Environmental Protection Agency's acceptable levels.
First its important to understand the testing process. After Berea had positive lead tests in January, it was required by a new 2016 law to test 30 homes in six months. Under the old law Berea was allowed to testing once every three years. Berea so far has only collected 15 of the required 30 and two came back exceeding the EPA limit. Those samples are taken by the homeowners themselves and sent back to the city of Berea to be tested. When two came back positive it set a whole new chain of events in motion. Those two home were retested Friday morning by experts not the homeowners, and the samples of water are being driven down to the EPA labs in the Columbus area to speed up the process.
Berea is insisting that the two samples taken by homeowners were done incorrectly. Ohio EPA Spokeswoman Heidi Griesmer was able to expand on that for us. In one of the positives, "The homeowner took a sample from a tap that is not normally used for consumption. In fact he took it from the basement." The problem with that Griesmer explained is that water sitting for a period of time will collect lead, possibly from an old fixture itself, and sit there to build up. That's why a second retest from a faucet in normal use was done Friday morning.
As for the second positive the Ohio EPA has no explanation why it would be incorrect and will wait for the retest results.
Griesmer made it very clear to us that Berea has done everything asked of them and is in full compliance. The Ohio EPA, and even US EPA, water experts have been in Berea since January making sure everything is being done correctly at the water treatment facility.
The two homes that tested positive have been given filters until the retests can be completed in Columbus either later today or first thing next week. If those two test compact positive, it's still not enough to send the entire city of Berea into the next level of what the EPA calls "exceedance". Recall how Berea is required get 30 samples, and so far has only gotten 15. It's not until four separate samples come back positive, are retested and come back positive a second time, that a community moves to the next level of exceedance. If Berea gets the final 15 samples in, and two are positive, the process goes into a whole new level complete with the Cuyahoga County Health Department being alerted and activated to get information to all Berea residents, not just the homes that tested positive.
At 4 p.m. on 6/30 Berea released the following statement:
We have been advised by the Ohio EPA that the levels of lead in 12 of the samples were "undetectable" and 1 had a reading under action-level.
The City also re-tested the two locations that previously showed elevated levels of lead. The Ohio EPA analyzed the samples and found that that the level in one home is under action level and the other is "undetectable" in the kitchen, but has an elevated reading in the basement, which is likely caused by lead in the pipes or solder.
We also tested the water leaving the Water Plant. Consistent with every test for lead ever conducted at the Plant, the level was "undetectable."
These are still considered "interim" results until the final two samples are analyzed by the EPA. The last two samples will be hand-carried to Columbus tomorrow for EPA analysis.