Steelton residents want answers about water issues

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Dozens of Steelton residents packed the borough’s council chambers Monday night trying to find out more about the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection’s recent announcement regarding drinking water violations.

DEP officials said last Wednesday the agency has fined the Steelton Borough Water Authority $55,200 because of issues related to water treatment and reporting violations that happened last year.

In a news release, DEP detailed the following:

  • Steelton failed to provide adequate disinfection of Giardia lamblia,an organism commonly found in surface water that is capable of causing disease, for at least 24 days in 2013. Steelton also did not report this treatment failure to DEP;
  • Steelton failed to record filtered water turbidity levels, a measurement of the cloudiness of the water which is an indicator of water quality, for 108 separate days in 2013;
  • Steelton’s former operator falsely reported to DEP during the months of August, September and October 2013 that filtered water turbidity had been recorded and the readings were all acceptable; and
  • Steelton operated several modifications to the facilities without a Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) permit.

DEP says there are “no ongoing health risks as a result of the violations.”

Steelton is paying the fine in quarterly installments, the first of which DEP already has received.

However, many residents wanted to know why they weren’t informed about the problems until last week.

“My whole midsection, I’ve been in pain. I’ve been in pain so bad, I’m taking three different pain pills, antibiotics,” said Jerome Davis.

The borough’s council meeting grew heated at times, with one woman being escorted out of the room.

“It’s a sad moment in the Borough of Steelton. We’ve never had meetings like this,” said Steelton Mayor Tom Acri, who also serves on the board of the water authority. “A lot of things that were said tonight are not the truth. I don’t know how we’re going to get it through to the people, but we’re going to have to do it somehow.”

Borough Council President Jeffrey Wright said borough leaders learned about the issues in February.

FOX43 asked Mayor Acri, “Do you feel like you should have gone to the people sooner when you found out there were issues?”

He responded, “That’s it. I’m done. No more, guys. Thank you.”

DEP says the agency is inspecting Steelton’s water system weekly “to confirm satisfactory operation of the facilities.”

Candice Ann Kinter said she believes the borough’s leaders need to do more to regain trust.

“We’re all steaming mad. We want answers, maybe even a class action lawsuit,” said Kinter.

The water authority will hold a meeting next Monday at 5 p.m. Many of the people who attended the borough council meeting plan to be at next week’s meeting as well.


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