Water discussion set for Phillipsburg


PHILLIPSBURG — The Phillipsburg Village government will hold a town hall meeting at the municipal building at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 19.

Ryan Brauen, vice president of Wessler Engineering, will present a PowerPoint presentation and answer questions about the problems of PFAs in the village water supply.

The village has entered into a contract with Wessler to consider solutions to the problem. (It has also joined a class-action lawsuit against Dupont Corporation and 3M, which manufactures the chemicals.)

PFAs, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are chemicals in a variety of products. They break down very slowly over time and can move through soils and contaminate drinking water sources and build up in fish and wildlife.

At the moment officials think that the substances have made their way into the aquifer from which Phillipsburg pumps its water due to fire-fighting foam used at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Dayton International Airport.

For several months, Phillipsburg has been researching solutions to the problem, such as installing filters on the village pumps or purchasing the water from the City of Union, which doesn’t have the contamination.

At the Feb. 8 meeting of the Board of Public Affairs, Mike Myers, an engineer under contract to the department, presented the board members and Wendell Harleman, water commissioner, with the results of tests done on the village’s four wells by two companies, Wessler Engineering and Pace.

Member Jackie Wysong noted a major discrepancy in the amounts detected by the two companies.

“This makes me wonder how accurate is the testing,” Wysong said, wondering if some contaminants had been introduced through the testers’ clothing or gloves. Myers said the testers took elaborate precautions, but Brauen would have to address the issue at the town meeting.

Myers added, “Either way, it’s above the four (parts per trillion),” the expected EPA standard. He also said he wondered why two wells 150 feet apart had wildly varying amounts.

He further said the estimates for the initial solutions, carbon filter, ionization or reverse osmosis, were about the same, but the major expense would be operation and maintenance and replacement. This could amount in one case to $215,000 per year. In addition, he said, disposing of the waste products from the carbon filters or the residue of the ion exchange would need to be considered.

He recommended the village purchase its water from the City of Union, leaving the village only to buy the water and maintain the water tower. Union would install a central meter and charge the village, which would then probably decide how to charge the residents.

All residents are welcome at the town hall meeting on Feb. 19 and at the council meeting the next night.

The next meeting of the BPA will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 7, at the municipal building 10868 Brookville Phillipsburg Rd.

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