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EPD fines Fayette $9,000 for foul water failures

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has issued a $9,000 fine on the Fayette County Water System as a result of the smelly water episode in May that lasted for several weeks, which resulted in a scathing report on problems with the county’s water treatment process.

The fine was part of a consent order entered between EPD and the county last week. Along with the fine, EPD is giving the county a year to fully implement a corrective action plan that is being prepared by the county’s engineering consulting firm, CH2M Hill.

The smelly and bad-tasting water began around May 9 and lingered for weeks. Tony Parrott, the water system director at the time, later admitted that he guessed at the cause of the smelly water, which was later identified to be operational problems at the Crosstown Water Treatment Plant in Peachtree City.

Parrott was initially suspended without pay for his role in the problem, but he was later demoted to water treatment plant operator by County Manager Steve Rapson.

The consent order notes that surveys of the two water treatment plants conducted by EPD in June found “numerous deficiencies and violations at the Crosstown Water Treatment Plant and the South Fayette Water Treatment Plant” totaling 29 at the Crosstown plant and 14 at the South Fayette plant. Those were on top of six deficiencies at water intake structures, two deficiencies at wells, five deficiencies at storage tanks and four about the distribution system itself.

The EPD order determined that the county violated state drinking water rules by:

• Allowing any contaminant that adversely affects the odor or appearance of the drinking water “and consequently may cause a substantial number of the persons served ... to discontinue its use or which may adversely affect the public welfare.”;

• Allowing water plant operations to be directed by managers who were not directly responsible for those job duties or failed to hold the appropriate license, in violation of state drinking water rules;

• Failing to have a Class I Water Operator in charge of the day to day operations of the water plants;

• Allowing uncertified maintenance personnel to prepare chemicals for water treatment and those employees also adjusted the dosages along with operating pumps and valves at the wells;

• Failing to continuously monitor the required daily disinfectant residual readings for a three-year period from 2010-2013, as the water system failed to calibrate the online chlorine analyzers and

• Failing to issue a boil water advisory after a pressure loss Aug. 6 at the Crosstown Water Treatment Plant.

EPD was also critical of an issue in early August where higher than allowed manganese levels led to discolored water in the system.

EPD noted that the county has undertaken a list of 151 remediation tasks to address the clean water violations and deficiencies, 36 of which have already been finished.

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