High lead levels in Sebring’s water raises many questions

Residents in Sebring are wondering why they weren't informed of the high lead levels in their water sooner.

SEBRING, Ohio (WKBN) – People in Sebring were still picking up cases of bottled water on Saturday, one day after being alerted of lead found in their drinking water. They still have several unanswered questions.

“I think they need to give us a little more information,” George Papadeonis said.

“My question is, why did it take so long to find out?” Jerrold Smith said. “So someone in that gap needs to answer some questions.”

Even though the issue was announced Friday, some residents are wondering how long officials knew about it.

Environmental Protection Agency letters to Sebring

“We received a leaflet yesterday from Sebring, dated January 15th,” Christine Ashby said. “Why did it take seven days for them to distribute the information, and how long have they known about it?”

The notice was sent by the Village of Sebring Public Water System.

“That should have been told to the people right away. I mean, we pay a lot for our water and to have it be unsafe, and we’ve been consuming it this long. That’s scary,” Sandy Snyder said.

Mayor Michael Pinkerton and treatment plant supervisor James Bates both say that Village Manager Richard Giroux is the person to talk to. Giroux says he will talk on Monday once he has the test results.

State Senator Joe Schiavoni also has concerns.

“It takes a few minutes to do the test…you can do a test in less than 24 hours. So if you get results, they should be turned over to the public immediately so that they know,” Schiavoni said. “There was a period of time for four or five months that people did not know that there was high concentrations of lead in their water, and that’s a problem.”

Schiavoni and Representative John Boccieri sent a letter to the Ohio EPA on Friday, claiming that by state law, residents should have been informed of the problem by December 10th.

Photos: Timeline of Sebring’s lead levels

“Those homes have lead pipes from the street to the house, and what we’re being told is that’s where the lead is coming from. My understanding is that the treatment plant tested negative,” said Mahoning County Commissioner, Anthony Traficanti.

He says there are seven homes that showed high levels of lead coming out of their faucets. The pipes in those homes are going to have to be replaced.

“That’s when the Village, the elected officials, the county and the state are going to have to step up to the plate, and find out in fact if there is money available to replace those pipes,” Traficanti said.

Test results are expected to be released Monday, but questions still remain about the notification process.

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