News Feature | July 20, 2016

Authorities Target Water Operator Over Lead Crisis In Ohio

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Ohio authorities filed charges against a water operator last week, alleging that he failed to alert residents about lead levels in the village of Sebring, where tainted tap water has triggered elevated lead levels in children.

James V. Bates was the operator of record for the village’s public water system last year, according to the Ohio attorney general’s office. Bates faces the following charges, the office said:

  • Two counts of recklessly failing to provide timely notice of individual lead tap water results to affected consumers within 30 days of receiving lab results (an unclassified misdemeanor); and
  • One count of recklessly failing to provide timely system-wide public education within 60 days of the end of the lead and copper monitoring period (an unclassified misdemeanor).

The state says Bates’ actions failed to comply with state drinking water laws, according to the office. The complaint was filed at the request of the Ohio EPA.

“Bates received the first set of lab results showing excess lead levels August 20, according to a sworn affidavit from Ohio EPA investigator Ronald Fodo. Lab results from follow-up samples, also showing excess lead in the water, were sent to Bates September 10 and 24, Fodo said. It wasn't until December 18 that Bates notified residents, Fodo said in the affidavit,” CNN reported.

“Previously, Sebring officials said the village believed it was meeting all state environmental deadlines,” the New York Daily News reported.

Sebring remains under a tap-water advisory, according to CNN. Ohio EPA has provided funding for filtration systems and shipped bottled water to the town.

Ohio EPA has faced criticism for its response to the crisis.

“Lawmakers have said the Ohio EPA also knew about the problems in August but didn't tell the public for months,” CNN reported.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Regulations And Legislation Solutions Center.