© 2021 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Health & Science

Investigation of Sebring's Water Problems is Continuing

bottled water distribution
Tim Rudell

Sebring’s water superintendent is on administrative leave.  And, bottled water is still being distributed to residents of the village and surrounding communities as the Ohio EPA runs more tests.  WKSU’s Tim Rudell reports.

About 8,000 people living in and around Sebring, Beloit and Maple Ridge -- just east of Alliance -- are hooked up to Sebring water.  Last week they were told to stop drinking it after sample testing showed lead contamination at half a dozen houses and a  business.  

Kurt Hawkins came to the Sebring Community Center to get a couple case of bottled water.  Mahoning County and the village of Sebring are providing it free to Sebring water users.  

Sebring Community Center Distribution Point
Credit Tim Rudell

He thinks there has been a problem for some time.

 “I told the wife a while back, I said, 'This water doesn’t taste right.  And they had a lot of chemicals in it I thought. So I started going down to Gordon Brothers and getting water down there.”

Ohio EPA spokeswoman Heidi Griesmer says that while the number of contaminated samples found last week was small, the investigation is continuing to find out what caused them, and why local authorities didn’t reveal them sooner.

Heidi Griesmer
Credit Ohio EPA / WKSU
Ohio EPA Spokesperson Heidi Griesmer

Sebring water superintendent James Bates is now on administrative leave. Village Manager Rich Giroux  made that announcement after the Ohio EPA issued an order prohibiting Bates from operating the water system. 

Heidi Griesmer says the agency grew concerned about how the Sebring system was being managed.

“The village of Sebring time and time again gave us incomplete data, did not submit required documents.  We also received documentation that caused us to suspect that they provided fraudulent data to us, and we have started an investigation.”

James Bates told WFMJ-TV in Youngstown he did not falsify anything.