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Residents seek answers for salted water wells
Residents seek answers for salted water wells
By JOSEPH KOZIOL JR.
Four residents of Woodie Glen Drive approached Chardon Township Trustees last week to seek assurances that problems with road salt leaching into their water wells is addressed.
Residents called on trustees to stop the practice of mixing cinders and salt on bare ground and to pass a resolution making that pledge, as well as to consider running city water to their homes.
A report released by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in February pointed to the township's practice of mixing salt and cinders on permeable ground. The report said wells at three homes on Woodie Glen Drive and six others on Mentor Road, Breckenridge Drive and Woodie Glen showed evidence of contamination by road salt.
"Results of our investigation point to the Chardon Township road maintenance facility as the source of the road de-icers affecting these wells," an EPA notice of violation said.
Resident Chuck Forstyk initiated the discussion asking why the township had to mix salt and cinders. He asked why two trucks could not be used to lay down both materials during the winter.
Trustee Steven Borawski said the township must use both materials to provide traction in the winter. He said attempting to use salt only would be cost-prohibitive.
Trustee Michael Brown said the township is working with the Geauga County Engineer's Office to design a new salt-storage building and a new pad to mix the salt with cinders. He said the township would no longer mix on bare ground.
"That's my concern, eliminate it before the next season," Mr. Forstyk said.
Mr. Brown said he's as frustrated as the residents are in not being able to move faster. "Nothing aggravates me more than not being able to discuss this like any other township business," he said.
Trustee Charles Strazinsky Jr. said, because a claim has been filed against the township's insurance as a result of the contamination, trustees have turned it over to that company, which has placed it in the hands of their attorney. He said they have been advised not to discuss the issue. "It's not in our hands right now," he said.
Mr. Forstyk asked whether salt is leaching from its storage shed every time it rains.
Township Road Superintendent Donald Mohney said salt is not leaching from the storage building. "That's not a problem," he said. "That's not what we're in violation for."
Mr. Borawski said part of the holdup is the issue has been placed in the hands of the insurance company's attorney. He said they are reading the EPA report and interpreting it.
He said trustees are awaiting a meeting between EPA officials and the township. He said he initiated the first meeting, but EPA officials were unwilling to meet in Chardon, asking instead that the meeting be held in Twinsburg.
Mr. Brown said he could not agree to having the meeting in Twinsburg, because that would make it more difficult for township residents to attend.
"The stumbling block has been the EPA," Mr. Brown said. "Look how long it took to do the report."
Mr. Strazinsky said trustees are concerned with doing what is right for the residents and the township. "We just discovered we have a possible problem," he said. "We're doing everything we can to solve this problem."
Resident Lisa Muzic said she had received an e-mail from the EPA saying a meeting will be held April 15 or 22. "If you don't have that correspondence, I'm concerned," she said.
She said residents expect trustees to act on their behalf, but they have turned it over to someone else.
Resident James Muzic said he wants the township to extend waterlines from Route 44, about 0.8 mile to the east, to the affected homes.
Mr. Borawski said the township would not agree to that. "That can't happen," he said. Extending waterlines into the township would break zoning, he said.
Mr. Borawski said the salt in the ground water would "take care of itself" in a relatively short time.
Mr. Muzic said he was told by an EPA representative that the salt flushing itself out of the aquifers may take decades. "He said 10 years would be extremely conservative," he said. "To think this is going away in 10 years is a joke."
Resident Brian Lach said he wants assurances that at least two of the three trustees would attend the meeting with the EPA so the meeting would be open to the public.
Trustees indicated that they may have only one trustee present at the meeting.
Mr. Lach said the problem is a serious one that has been going on for years. He said it appears that little has been done to correct the problem, making it feel like trustees are saying, "to hell with the people getting hurt by it." He said he has to consider the expense of putting in a reverse-osmosis system in his home to handle the problem.
Mr. Strazinsky said each of the trustees cares about the issue and is willing to do the right thing. However, he said, trustees do not want to rush to action just to get something done, if it is not the right thing. "We're doing the best we can with the advice of legal counsel that we're getting," he said.
Mr. Borawski said the situation is just as "frustrating" for trustees because of the wait. He said unfortunately government can move slowly.
Mr. Lach asked whether trustees would pass a resolution, stating no more mixing of salt and cinders on open ground as in the past.
Mr. Strazinsky said there was no need for such a resolution, because the practice was being stopped.
Mr. Lach said it was necessary for the residents' peace of mind. "Frankly, I don't believe you," he said.
Trustees said they are hoping the meeting with OEPA can be held fairly quickly and they can learn what recommendations they should follow to correct the situation.
"We're counting on you to do that and keep us informed," Mr. Forstyk said.
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