Galion residents want to know: Is it safe to drink the water?


Rhonda Bletner - [email protected]



GALION — Residents want to know if it’s safe to drink the water from their taps. And, yes, they can, Mayor Thomas O’Learysaid.

Concerns were expressed when the EPA requires that the city informs its water customers of the level of TTHM, total trihalomethanes, in the city’s water.

TTHMs are among a group of chemicals known as disinfection byproducts which can form when the chlorine used to disinfect the drinking water during treatment reacts with organics in the water within the distribution system. The Ohio EPA requires the city to sample for total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) quarterly in four locations throughout the distribution system.

“Our problem, we believe,” O’Leary said, “comes from a lack of turnover in the water.

The water distribution system has been built so we have water that doesn’t circulate and so that increase in TTHM happens more during warmer weather months. The water sits in the water tower; it gets heated up [in warmer weather] and that accelerates that [TTHM] in the water.”

The city had a similar violation in 2016. The federal TTHM standard for drinking water was, and still is, 0.080 mg/L (miligrams per liter); Galion’s average level over four quarters, at that time, was 0.081 mg/L. The Ohio EPA said the city returned to compliance in the first quarter of 2017.

The federal standard has not changed. Now, however, at Galion, the average level of TTHM over the last four quarters was 0.083 mg/L at DS201 and 0.087 mg/L at DS202.

“Increased TTHM is a sporadic issue, typically occurring during warmer months. The increased sample results, in this case, appear to be tied to operational changes made at the Water Treatment Plant last year,” stated O’Leary.

Following the EPA’s findings in 2016, the city took action to mitigate the issue, including flushing dead-end and oversized lines to reduce the TTHM levels.

Following a query for more information, the EPA responded: The city exceeded the TTHM limit in the third and fourth quarters of 2021 and the first quarter this year. Ohio EPA is working with the city and has offered significant technical assistance over the past year.

According to the notice issued to residents, “The levels do not pose an immediate risk to your health.”

It also cautions that excessive amounts may cause liver, kidney, or central nervous system problems and may increase the risk of cancer.

The city has determinted to increase flushing as well as additional measures.

“It is a systematic problem,” O’Leary stated, “and it takes a while to figure out what tweaks need to be done to satisfy the EPA. And then which of those improvements can we afford at the current rate base and which of those capital improvements will likely require us to look at some sort of rate increase.”

However, the city is not planning for a rate increase in 2022, he said.

That’s because the county commissioners have committed over $1 million of their ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds to make improvements at the water treatment plant through an intergovernmental subgrantee agreement.

The city will use their first allocation of ARPA dollars for engineering for the infrastructure that the county’s money will fund over the next year or two, including some repair and replacement of equipment on Railroad St. to improve the water leaving the plant. Then they will look at possible changes to the distribution system, other than flushing. For example, an aeration system could be installed in the water towers.

“We’re excited,” O’Leary said, “It’s pretty essential to getting our water plant modernized and compliant.”

Rhonda Bletner

[email protected]