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Officials lift Vienna’s ‘do not drink’ water advisory

Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Jeff Baughan Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp shows statistics from the latest water test results Tuesday morning during the press conference which officially announced Vienna’s “do not drink” advisory had been lifted.
Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Jeff Baughan
Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp shows statistics from the latest water test results Tuesday morning during the press conference which officially announced Vienna’s “do not drink” advisory had been lifted.

VIENNA, W.Va. — One could almost the watch the weight on the shoulders of Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp disappear Tuesday morning as the official announcement lifting the “Do Not Drink” water advisory was read by Wood County Health Department Director Drema Mace at the Vienna Utility Board office.

The water advisory was dropped on the city May 19 at 2:19 p.m. “when we no longer met the federal guidelines,” Rapp said about Vienna’s water standards. “This is a significant day for Vienna and Boaz. We were told at 5 p.m. Monday the advisory would be lifted.”

The announcement affects 5,500 water customers according to Rapp. “Bottled water is no longer required.”

The test results from TestAmerica of Arvada, Colo., showed the pretreatment reading in Vienna went from 0.090 parts per billion to 0.0050 parts per billion.

Craig Metz, Vienna’s Public Works Director, echoed that information after the meeting when he added, “there is still a lot of work to do, but we can get out of the distribution of bottled water business now.”

Rapp said the new filter plant located on 58th Street went into use Saturday and had pumped 3.5 million gallons of water through the plant Saturday through Tuesday morning.

Mike Fling, representing Wood County Schools, said all was well with the school system.

“Teachers reported (Tuesday) and students come back Thursday,” he said. “The Greenmont, Jackson and Vienna lines are being flushed. Neale is on the Parkersburg water. All is going to be good to go as far as we are concerned.”

Rapp said Vienna has eight wells which produce “approximately 1.2 million gallons of water a day. The plant on 58th Street has four tanks. Each is 23-feet tall and holds 20,000 pounds of activated carbon.”

Rapp added a metal building will constructed soon which will enclose the facility and protect it from the elements while he gave a tour of the facility to Rod Rogers, district director for U.S. Rep. David McKinley’s office, and Pat Murphy of the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health.

He added the booster pumps in the vicinity of Home Depot and Chick-fil-A will remain active for a couple of months.

“Fields nine and 10 supply the lower section of Vienna and the commercial district. Once we get the GAC (granular activated carbon) filter on, we can disconnect from Parkersburg’s water supply. That should be done by the first part of October.”

Rapp introduced Mace to make the announcement official early into the press conference.

“The ‘don’t drink’ advisory is lifted for Vienna,” she said and advised restaurants and homeowners to flush lines and change filters which have been used since the advisory was announced. “They need to be changed before people start using the new water.”

She also added “all readings are well below the health advisory levels when the advisory was issued.”

Rapp had a long list of “thank yous” to go around, thanking city employees who had given countless hours to get the city through the crisis. He reserved special thanks for Parkersburg Mayor Jimmy Colombo, who was seated to his right during the press conference.

“Mayor Colombo had a greater vision than just Parkersburg for this crisis,” Rapp said. “Vienna and Boaz were both involved with this and they immediately assisted.”

Colombo spoke briefly, remarking he knew if Parkersburg was faced a situation where Vienna could assist, Parkersburg would receive the help. He added assistance didn’t stop at the border, but people helping people in need.

“The City of Vienna consumed over a million bottles of water in those 83 days,” Rapp said. “Not only did Parkersburg step up with the water supply but Mayor Colombo sent trailers to collect the bottles so we didn’t have to drop it in a landfill. I don’t think people realized the magnitude of this. I think we all have a grasp of how important water is to us.”

Mace said the hotline which had been set up to receive public inquiries was answering up to 150 calls a day.

Despite the length of advisory, Rapp did find a positive amongst the negative.

“We have learned so much about our town during this time. We now have a better emergency plan in case something happens again with the water, we will know what to do and how to do it immediately,” he said.

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