Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Boil-water warning wasn't heard


Methods of notification questioned

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - A boil water advisory was lifted Monday afternoon for areas totaling 5,000 people in West Chester and Liberty townships east of Interstate 75 and in part of Warren County.

The advisory was issued Sunday after a water main break on Allen Road between Cincinnati-Dayton Road and Schumacher Park Drive between 5 and 6 a.m.

But residents and even some elected officials complained they were not aware of the precautionary boil advisory until Monday morning.

They questioned why county officials did not notify residents and business operators other than to send out notices to the media and government offices Sunday afternoon.

"They have a legal responsibility to go door-to-door and at least hang door knockers that notify people," said Patty Thomas of West Chester. "It is really appalling that the county didn't make a greater effort to notify people. If we can't drink the water coming out of our taps, we ought to be told that."

But county officials say they followed state procedures for notification of precautionary boils that impact so many people.

"In cases where there is a very small amount of people affected, door-to-door notification is possible," said Tony Parrott, director of the Butler County Department of Environmental Services. "But in a situation where you have 5,000 residents, the quickest way ... is through the local (media)."

"People should be upset," said West Chester Trustee Catherine Stoker. "This is a health problem, and people need to be notified. They need to place notices on the doors of businesses and homes. The Butler County Department of Environmental Services is not some Pollyanna organization to say, `Everything is wonderful.' They are there to provide safe drinking and sewer services, and this is all part of that service."

The cause of the break in the 16-inch water line that was installed in 1965 still was not known Monday, county officials said. It could be weather-related.

Mr. Parrott said a 24-inch water main will replace the one that broke. Though unlikely, a water main break could allow contaminants to enter the water system, county officials said.

E-mail jedwards@enquirer.com




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