OFFICE OF THE CHIEF ADMINISTRATOR
August 17, 2017
Dear Greenbrier Subdivision Resident:
I am writing to invite you to a Utilities Committee meeting on Wednesday, August 23rd at 7:00 PM in the Council Chambers at 21 West Washington Street to discuss any concerns about your drinking water. The Village is meeting with several industry experts this week and will provide an update on progress at the meeting next week.
I also want to address various points raised by Mr. Nerone in his August 14, 2017 letter to Council. While this letter is largely factual it is also somewhat misleading . A series of questions and answers below are intended to address some of the misunderstanding of the water system.
As background, the Franklin Street wells have served the Village since the 1960s. They are a very high quality groundwater source and were the sole supply of the entire Village up until 1987 when the Village connected to the City of Cleveland to satisfy increased peak demand for water as a result of an increase in the population served. The Franklin Street wells pump into the distribution system at the corner of Somerset and Hawthorne Drives and Cleveland water is pumped into the system at Solon Road and Greenbrier. When the wells are running, which is the majority of the time, the Greenbrier Subdivision is receiving Chagrin well water only.
While we recognize that there is currently an issue with discolored water in the Greenbrier area, there is no history ofreported discolored water problems in Greenbrier or Village wide either before or after the connection to Cleveland water. All water systems have aesthetic problems from discolored water from time to time but you should not see discolored water on a regular basis. Discolored water is typically caused by changes in the flow rates, water main breaks or hydrant flushing. It is our understanding that in the past four years the residents of the Greenbrier Subdivision have noticed more incidents of discolored water and since this was first brought to our attention in January 2017 we have been and are working to minimize this as much as possible.
Is the water from the Franklin Street wells safe?
Yes. The water is safe to drink and is well within all of the strict EPA regulations for drinking water. The aesthetic discolored water issue raised by Mr. Nerone related only to color and the naturally occurring iron in the source water from the Franklin Street wells. Dissolved iron is colorless but can react with oxygen in the distribution system to form iron oxide or rust and cause discolored water.
Is the Franklin Street well water iron level “very high”?
No. The water industry and EPA do not consider concentrations less than 300 parts per billion (ppb) to be a “very high” iron level. Any amount of soluble iron below 300ppb is considered low. The last test result of the Franklin Street well water was 290 ppb. Historic test results show the wells have ranged between 210ppb and 290ppb. It is simply not accurate to characterize the iron content of the wells as “very high”.
Is Cleveland water extensively treated and Chagrin water untreated?
Cleveland water has to be extensively treated as necessitated by the relatively poor quality of the source water and to meet the EPA Surface Water Treatment Rules. Lake Erie is subject to all forms of environmental pollution including air pollution fallout, storm water runoff, septic and wastewater treatment plant discharges, algae blooms, open water dumping, and dead zone influence. All these contaminants in the raw water must be removed before it can be distributed to customers. Chagrin Falls has deep wells that are protected by a 230 foot layer of clay overburden. The well water can be safely consumed with no treatment although EPA requires chlorination as a safety factor. This type of well water is routinely sold at a high premium by the bottled water industry as artisan spring water. The Chagrin Falls Water Department and Cleveland Water are subject to the same regulations for consumer tap water quality. Chagrin is much less regulated on the treatment side because ground water is inherently of much higher quality than surface water.
Does Chagrin treat the water for iron?
Yes. The Village does treat the well water for iron with a polyphosphate and orthophosphate blend. Chagrin follows the water industry standard and Ten States Standards (plant design standards), which provide for sequestration with polyphosphate as the prescribed treatment up to 500 ppb. Additional treatment is not indicated by the low iron content of the water.
Is there fluoride in Chagrin well water?
Yes. Fluoride is a naturally occurring element in ground water and the concentration of fluoride is 0.25 parts per million (ppm) in the Franklin Street well water. Chagrin does not add additional fluoride to its well water. Fluoride is also a regulated contaminant and water systems may not exceed a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 4.0 ppm. The EPA also has an advisory secondary standard of 2.0ppm to protect children from tooth discoloration. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommends an optimal level of 0.7ppm for dental health. The Village well water is well below the secondary standard and contains 35% of the current DHHS recommendation.
Fluoridation of drinking water remains a controversial subject despite its history of use in this country because excess fluoride can have adverse health consequences. Recent studies have lent support to the opposition and calls for lower levels of fluoride in drinking water. Today most people are exposed to fluoride from sources other than drinking water including dental products, food and beverages. For more information see this Scientific American article and this EPA fact sheet.
What is the Village doing about the recent discolored water complaints?
In the near term we are working to resolve the recent discolored water problem by working with our chemical supplier to adjust dosages or phosphate blends as may be necessary. In addition, the capital plan approved by Council last fall includes replacement of the transmission line from the Franklin Street well field in 2018 in conjunction with the resurfacing of the roads in Greenbrier. The transmission line will be extended through the Greenbrier Subdivision to Solon Road where it will mix directly with Cleveland water. When this project is completed all customers will receive a homogeneous blend of Cleveland and Chagrin water.