Berea Mayor defends city's water

Berea Mayor defends city's water

BEREA, OH (WOIO) - Monday night's Berea City Council meeting began with Mayor Cyril Kleem addressing the city's water issue first uncovered by Cleveland 19 News.

"The insinuation from the news report is that Berea is another Flint, or potentially another Flint. That's not the case," he said. "We recognize we have residents who get brown water, in fact our emails and information shows about one percent of our 7,000 customers contact us every year with discolored water. That does not mean you have lead in your water."

Mayor Kleem stated multiple times he wouldn't do an on-camera interview following Cleveland 19 News's investigative reports about water at certain homes in the city.

But, during the meeting, Cleveland 19 News was there as the mayor defended the city's water department.

"The City of Berea's water was tested for lead at .005 parts per billion, which is an extremely low rate on Nov. 16, 2016. Furthermore, the city's distribution system does not contain lead lines," Mayor Kleem said.

Tests Cleveland 19 News conducted on Fair Street showed concern. One home in particular showed copper and lead well over the EPA's recommendations.

Mayor Kleem said the lead in the water either came directly from the home tested, or there was a sampling error.

"For example, a water filtration system or a water softener can alter the sample," he said.

Mayor Kleem also said water temperatures and timing can impact results.

One person addressed council Monday night, bringing up the city's water issue. She said she wants council to start educational programs for the community.

"It's not 19 News's job to educate Berea residents. It's your job," she said to the mayor.

The woman asked for a city-wide sampling of water.

"It's a little hard to go through and sample 7,000 customers, but we certainly provide that service to people," said Mayor Kleem.

He said a water quality report goes out yearly to the people of Berea. In that packet, there is information and a hotline regarding lead in water.

Mayor Kleem also said the city has spent more than $60 million dollars on infrastructure over the course of 8 years, which he said is the most spent in Berea in the city's history.

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