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Rapson: Water fixes 38% done

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has again pushed back the deadline for Fayette County’s response to a sanitary survey that found multiple deficiencies and 10 violations of Georgia’s safe drinking water rules in a June inspection of the Fayette County Water System.

The county’s response is now due Sept. 27, County Administrator Steve Rapson told the County Commission last week.

“Through today we have fixed 38 percent of the deficiencies in that report,” Rapson told the commission Thursday night, adding that the county was working “to get things corrected as quickly as we can.”

Last week, Rapson announced the demotion of water system Director Tony Parrott, saying Parrott was not moving quickly enough on the items outlined in an employee improvement plan that was enacted when Parrott was first disciplined with two weeks of unpaid leave for the weeks-long taste and odor problems that plagued the water system in the spring.

Parrott would later admit to EPD investigators that he guessed at the cause of the odor and taste problem, which EPD chalked up to poor operations at the Crosstown water treatment plant, particularly in the recycling of water that had been used to clean the plant’s filters. The foul water caused severe inconveniences for county residents as well as local restaurants, many of which resorted to serving bottled water until the problem was ultimately resolved.

One of the immediate remedies required by EPD was the removal of sludge at several holding ponds at the Crosstown plant.

Rapson has also ordered that all water system employees be re-trained based on the current position they are filling.

The EPD report from the sanitary survey was notable in large part because it recommended a state-level investigation into Parrott and four other employees to determine if they “practiced fraud or deception,” or perhaps instead were “incompetent or unable to perform their duties properly.” That investigation would be undertaken by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office and also the State Board of Examiners for Certification of Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators and Laboratory Analysts.

Among the rule violations listed by the EPD include:

• Failure to provide daily continuous disinfectant residual readings for the last three years;

• Failure to employ a Class I Water Operator to be the official in charge of day to day operations of the Crosstown and South Fayette water plants;

• Failure to record the results of individual filter monitoring every 15 minutes; the turbidimeters at the Crosstown plant were not calibrated between February and October 2012 though they are required to be conducted quarterly;

• Failure of the continuous turbidity monitoring equipment, specifically at filter no. 5 at the Crosstown plant which was out for more than five days “and the water plant personnel were unaware this situation existed until it was brought to their attention. The monthly operating report did not indicate a problem with any of the filters,” which is also a reporting violation; and

• Failure to properly conduct analysis of the daily concentration of chlorite due to the improper use of a particular gas used in the process.

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