Four area community water providers were recognized Tuesday for developing drinking water protection plans by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Friends of the Lower Muskingum.
Certificates were awarded to the villages of Beverly and Lowell, the Tri-County Rural Water and Sewer District and the Putnam Community Water Association.
"We're celebrating the completion of their source water protection plans - it took a lot of hard work by all of these districts," said Kristyn Robinson with Friends of the Lower Muskingum.
"We thank you all for working on this plan for your small communities," Barb Lubberger, supervisor of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency's Sourcewater Protection Division in Columbus, told those attending Tuesday's presentation.
Developed over the last couple of years, the water protection plans provide information about potential contaminants in the areas and outline contingency procedures for dealing with spills and other threats to drinking water sources.
The plans also include outreach plans to help educate the community about protection of water sources "so folks will know what to do in case of a spill," Lubberger said. "This is really a proactive approach to get more people thinking about how to care for their water resources."
About the plan
The villages of Beverly and Lowell, the Tri-County Rural Water and Sewer District and the Putnam Community Water Association were recognized Tuesday for completing drinking water protection plans for their communities.
More information about developing drinking water protection plans for local communities is available online at www.epa.ohio.gov, or by contacting the central office in Columbus at 614-644-2752.
Drinking water nitrate levels have dropped significantly in the Devola area since advisories were issued in November, December and early January, warning residents that significant amounts of the chemical had been discovered in the local water system, said Kim Hodge, with the Putnam Community Water Association.
"The levels have been pretty good lately - around 7.6 milligrams per liter at the end of last month," Hodge said.
The EPA says high levels of nitrates can be dangerous to infants younger than 6 months, and is a cause of blue baby syndrome. The maximum contaminate level for nitrates in drinking water, recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is 10 milligrams per liter.
"The problem with nitrates is it just doesn't go away quickly because it's in the ground water," Hodge said. "We've been monitoring it for a couple of years, and we'll have to keep on monitoring."
Robinson said all four of the water systems recognized Tuesday had problems with nitrate levels affecting drinking water.
"Nitrate sources may include fertilizers, leaking septic tanks, or sewer systems," she said. "And the pollution can travel quickly through sandy, gravelly soils, like those in Devola and other rural communities along the river.
"We need to educate more people about the problem and how they can address it," Robinson added.
Hodge said anyone is welcome to attend Putnam Community Water Association meetings at 7:30 p.m. on the last Tuesday of each month in the association office on Devol's Dam Road in Devola.