Lead found in 1 Berea home's water; mayor won't drink city's supply

Lead found in 1 Berea home's water; mayor won't drink city's supply

BEREA, OH (WOIO) - Berea Mayor Cyril Kleem said he wouldn't drink the water in his city even before tests came back positive for a concerning amount of lead in another resident's home with a young child.

Residents in Berea have been complaining of discolored and odd tasting water to both me and the city. A few samples showed the water was slightly discolored from light yellow to a brown color. I sent water samples from three Berea homes to a lab to get checked for metals and a concerning amount of lead was found at one house.

Abby Kocisko's home tested positive with an elevated level of lead.

The maximum contaminate level set by the Ohio EPA for lead in water is 0.015. The water in Kocisko's bathtub came back with 0.0185 traces of lead -- which is above the contaminated level of drinking water. Project manager for Summit Environmental Technologies said it was a result to be "concerned" about.

I immediately notified Kocisko and the city of Berea once the results were received.

Kocisko, the mother of a toddler, was shocked. I explained that the story was intended to air on television later in the week but felt a responsibility to let her and her husband know immediately.

"Oh that's great," she said sarcastically with a sigh.

Berea's municipal water plant is a dwarf compared to Cleveland's system.

Berea's system draws about two million gallons of water from the Rocky River's East Branch and occasionally Coe Lake every day. Kleem said he believes the water leaves the plant clear -- not tinted yellow or brown.

Customers in both Berea and Olmsted Falls, as well as Kocisko have complained about the water being discolored by the time it gets to their homes.

Bath water for Kocisko's daughter started out slightly yellow and as the water gets higher the color gets darker.

Kocisko documented the problem repeatedly.

"It ranges from urine color to like a dark, almost like a brownish yellow. It's gross," she said. "I get grossed out when I give her a bath because the water is yellow. I'm like, I'm trying to clean her in water that is dirty."

At Berea resident Sandy Cathcart's home the discoloration got so bad a water filter was installed.

"Every pipe is just clogged with it, shower heads don't last. All of our stuff in the house is Moen, and it dies within six months and it's supposed to last years," said Cathcart.

The filter that had been in for only two weeks was dark brown -- a stark contrast to the snow white new one she installed.

Cathcart and others have documented email exchanges with Kleem, who in June said he had just become aware of the problem.

Four months later, the discoloration is still a problem.

As he had promised, Kleem's representative went to Cathcart's home.

"He said basically, we'll test for bacteria but he said, 'Do what you gotta do,'" she said, adding the representative told her he wouldn't drink the water either. .

"Who would, I mean who would feed it to their kids or put it in baby bottles or coffee or anything," she said.

I began the story by comparing bottled water to Berea water.

The comparison was something that brought up another concern. In the wake of Flint, what about the possibility of heavy metals like iron rust, copper or lead in the water?

Cathcart was told Berea doesn't test for metals, so we sent samples to Summit Environmental Technologies. That is where the lead was detected in Kocisko's sample.

I reached out to Kleem to share that lead was found in at least one home in his city. The mayor has not yet commented.

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