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DEC working to discover cause of Mayville water problems

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is working hard at trying to identify the source of the problem that caused a “do not drink” order be issued for Mayville’s water last month.

According to Bill Boria, water specialist with the county health department, the DEC is taking the lead on identifying the source of contamination of the wells. “They’ve drilled six monitoring wells at key locations. They just sampled those wells about a week ago,” he said during the recent Board of Health meeting. “In addition to those monitoring wells, they’ve been sampling the creek that flows by the village’s wells. At the same time they’ve sampled the monitoring wells they sampled them in the creek in three locations – one location near the wells and two locations upstream. They’re sampling soils, and they’re also sampling some surface water drains that they’ve identified as key locations to try to figure this out. We’re awaiting results of those samples.”

Dec. 10 the county issued a “do not drink” order to Mayville village residents after samples from three wells indicated the presence of the chemical perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA) at levels between 75 and 330 parts per trillion.

Mayville started using a new well that did not have the PFNA. The do not drink order was lifted Dec. 24 after the village finished flushing its lines and storage tank.

Boria said the village can’t just rely on only one well long-term. In the summer, their water use increases because of tourism and seasonal residents, so they’re trying to see if the infected wells can be treated. “They have brought in an engineering firm that is doing a pilot testing program to install treatment on one or more of their contaminated wells. What they’re doing is they’re connecting a small batch treatment systems to the well that has the highest contaminates in it and they’re testing out four different treatment technologies to see which one’s going to work the best and also which is most efficient,” he said.

Boria said treatment probably isn’t the best option. “The best long term solution is for them to locate another well in a different aquifer, similar to the new well. The reason being is because treatment is very costly in terms of operation and maintenance. That treatment could be a temporary solution but ultimately the best is to drill one or more additional wells,” he said.

Boria applauded village, county and state officials and departments who worked quickly when the do not drink order was issued. “We’re very fortunate that this has really worked out well as far as networking and cooperation,” he said.

On Monday, Mayville Mayor Ken Shearer said right now their focus is isolating the problem. “We’re talking about everything,” he said.

He did agree with Boria that a new well would probably be cheaper than long-term treatment, but they’re not sure yet if that’s the best solution. “It would be irresponsible to think about the next step before we don’t know where (the contamination) is coming from,” he said.

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