At West Branch, it’s business as usual after good water test results

Water fountain generic

BELOIT, Ohio (WKBN) – Eight hours after the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency gave the OK to drink the water at West Branch High School, the boys’ junior varsity game against Carrollton was underway.

The game was the first public event to take place at the school since the water crisis began.

West Branch Superintendent Scott Weingart said EPA officials tested five sites at the high school on Saturday, and there was no detection of lead at any of them. On Sunday night they returned and tested 52 more sites — what amounted to every faucet in the middle school and athletic building.

“With all the testing they did, nearly 60 different sites here in these two buildings, or on this site, there was no lead found in any of them,” Weingart said. “So it was a good, clear report, and we were very happy about that.”

Residents in Beloit are among the 8,100 water customers serviced by the Sebring Water Plant. Some parts of Smith Township and Maple Ridge also receive water from the plant.

The Ohio EPA conducted the tests at 123 water sources in both the Sebring and West Branch school districts. Only two drinking fountains showed lead levels higher than federal standards — at McKinley Junior/Senior High School. Those lead levels were determined to be coming from the water fountains there, not the water coming into the building, and those fountains were taken out of commission on Tuesday.

Candy Rockwell grew up in Sebring — her family still lives there — and she has taught at West Branch for 21 years. She said, despite questions about the village’s water supply, she believes there is no danger.

“I would have drank it the past two days. I knew it was probably fine,” she said.

Lori Sox, who has a son on the West Branch junior varsity team, said she was concerned, however, when she first heard about the lead issue.

“I told him not to drink the water at school, just in case,” she said, but added that she trusts that the problem has been fixed now.

Overall, there was a sense of relief on Tuesday at West Branch — relief that the water there is fine, that it has been tested and that classes are resuming on Wednesday.

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