OHIO -- Earthworms Found in Tank of City Water

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Earthworms found in tank of city water


PARMA HEIGHTS - A $6 million project to repair an underground storage tank should keep earthworms out of your drinking water.

That s what Cleveland water officials hope after discovering about a dozen of the critters in the 23 million-gallon concrete tank after a ceiling joint deteriorated last month.

None of the customers who draw water from the tank complained of earthworms dropping out of their spigots, said Julius Ciaccia, head of the Cleveland Water Department.

"But it was certainly not something we were expecting or happy to see," he said. "All this underscores is the need to make continued improvements to the water system. It s an old system and things need to be done."

The tank, largest of 12 underground reservoirs in the Cleveland water system, was built in 1934. It serves residents in southwestern Cuyahoga County and Brunswick.

After the worms were found Feb. 16, officials took water samples, conducted tests and notified the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

The water was fine, said Dave Maschak, the Ohio EPA s public drinking water inspector for Cuyahoga County.

"They did nothing wrong," Maschak said. "It s no one s fault. This comes with age."

The tank, which is covered by sod, was shut down when inspectors, using a remote camera, saw debris in the water. That surprised viewers because workers had cleaned the tank in late October, Ciaccia said.

Ciaccia sent in a diver, who retrieved about a dozen worms from the tank floor.

Inspectors found an opening in the roof about 1 inch wide and 10 feet long. A rubberized strip that serves as an expansion joint had eroded. This opened the slit for dirt and worms to fall into the tank.

It s highly unlikely any worms entered the waterlines because they were found at the extreme rear of the tank, far from the outlet, Ciaccia said. Water officials determined the worms had dropped in only a few days earlier because of their condition, he added.

Water from the tank, which is 32 feet deep and larger than a football field, was drained into a nearby creek, a Cuyahoga River tributary.

But an Ohio EPA inspector, checking the process, noted problems because the water was "extremely turbid and laden with solids," which is a violation of water regulations, according to a March 8 letter from the EPA to the Water District. Water officials are to meet with the EPA next month to discuss the problem.

The tank resumed operations Thursday for customers in Parma, Parma Heights, Strongsville, Brunswick, North Royalton and Middleburg Heights.

"We knew right off the bat all we would be fighting is a perception issue," Ciaccia said, noting none of the samples turned up any bacteria. "People can go out and buy bottled water. But the fact is they don t know where that came from. Or the pop you re drinking."

Work is to start next month on a yearlong $6 million project to repair structural problems in the tank. One job is to install a pipe so the tank can be drained into a sewer instead of the creek.

Another job: replace the tank s concrete roof. Once repaired, Ciaccia said, it will be covered with gravel, not sod.

E-mail: jkuehner@plaind.com Phone: (216) 999-5325 )2000 THE PLAIN DEALER. http://www.cleveland.com/news/index.ssf?/news/pd/cc18wate.html

-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), March 18, 2000


Yuck! Thanks for the post, Dee. I hope you filed this in the "Ewww!" category!

-- Jen Bunker (jen@bunkergroup.com), March 18, 2000.

LOL Jen. Good one! =)

-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), March 19, 2000.

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