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Algae Causes Water Woes

By Staff | Sep 9, 2015

By ED PARSONS

Staff Writer

The blue-green algae that plaques the Ohio River is now causing problems for the town in Sistersville.

According to Tom Cooper, Director of the Tyler County Office of Emergency Management, Mayor Bill Rice of Sistersville was notified that they had to quit pumping water from the river due to the blue-green algae. The algae is covering the river due to the lack of rain. They had to start working out of the tanks they had already filled.

Rice said the city had water samples sent to Columbus to be tested and received word that the filtration system is working properly and tanks were immediately filled.

Cooper said this could have really been bad and he believes everyone should start thinking about what could happen if we lose our water supply or the water dries up.

“We should really keep enough water stored up at home to last for a few days in case something like that should happen,” said Cooper.

The hospital and the schools have started conserving water, Cooper commended them on taking quick action and he called this a near miss. He added that they aren’t out of the woods yet, every few days they still have to take water samples to Columbus to be tested until the algae starts to clear up. He noted the algae produces toxins that can’t be removed.

He said he had received some information from the health department that anyone could look at or have a copy of if they were interested.

Cooper said that he and Don Collins, a O.E.M. volunteer, would be going to the railroad to get a traffic flow of hazardous materials on the railroad and the river. They will be setting up to get a count along the roads as well. He said the results of the study would be put in the data base, so we can know what is traveling through the county.

Other issues discussed were the need for help with the Volunteers of Action Disaster (VOAD). Donations and volunteers are needed to respond when disasters strike. Cooper said there are all kinds of resources available from the state, local and federal levels, to help out with this but he still need volunteers. He said there are two ministerial associations in the county who are available to help out when people are in need. Cooper said a problem exists when large organizations come in after disasters and ask for local donations, he said we don’t always know where those funds go to so we would like to retain donations locally.

It was mentioned that the O.E.M. has several rain gauges that are available and could be used to measure the rainfall upstream or at other places in the county.

Cooper said if anyone wants one, he has them available and they could pick them up and use them to communicate to the schools about the road conditions. He went on to say that his office would know if there are any flooding problems.

Cooper also mentioned the road issues in the county. He said the state is not cutting the brush or mowing and it is making it really difficult to see traffic at turns or when trying to enter the highways. Several people expressed concern for the lack of maintenance on the roads and in particular a problem exists at the Sistersville Elementary school. The emergency access road is full of ruts and holes and is now nearly impossible to travel unless you use a four wheel drive. It was brought up that no one claims ownership of the road as the state and county plus the school deny responsibility for it.

Tyler County Superintendent Robin Daquilante said she has tried everything to get the access road repaired. The county attorney is currently doing a deed search to see who may be responsible for the road repairs. Cooper asked if any of the oil and gas companies could help out by filling the road or patching it would we much appreciated.

A study has been done by Coopers office and local volunteers to determine a point in time count of the homeless in Tyler County. The study showed only one or two homeless, he said the plan is to try and help out by providing temporary shelter and giving each one a backpack with information and supplies. He mentioned the schools and other organizations may have different counts of the homeless as they use different measures to count them.

Cooper said the new mobile command center has arrived and is ready for use it has everything we need and the trailer has been received and just needs wiring. They are still trying to sell the old Mobile command van.

The next meeting of the L.E.P.C. will be held on October 1, at the Middlebourne senior center.