EPA wants more water tests for town

Sebring schools will be closed Monday as the federal agency conducts additional water testings.

Tests showed lead levels at 21 parts per billion in some homes, according to CNN affiliate WEWS. The EPA requires they not exceed 15 parts per billion. Health officials found lead levels as high as 27 parts per billion in Flint, Michigan, according to CNN’s Sanjay Gupta.

Sebring is 70 miles southeast of Cleveland, and has a population of about 10,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Making progress

While its unclear when the town’s lead problem started, a water advisory alert for pregnant women and children was posted on the EPA website on December 3 last year.

The city has made tremendous progress since then, according to Heidi Griesmer, a spokeswoman for the EPA.

New water sampling results show that of 28 homes affected, only three remain above the federal mandated level for lead, the EPA said.

In addition, 15 water samples taken at three local schools show that except for one, all have lead levels that meet EPA standards.

But despite the numbers, the EPA said it will not lift its drinking water advisory for pregnant women and children until two rounds of successful sampling are done in consecutive six-month periods.

‘It is still unacceptable’

The numbers may be improving, but more work is needed, federal officials said.

The EPA said it suspects the lead may be seeping into the water from some distribution lines and old homes with lead pipes, according to the affiliate.

“While the water system has a clean water source and supply, it is still unacceptable that a few individual homes are experiencing corrosion that is causing high levels of lead,” said Craig W. Butler, the EPA director for Ohio.

The federal agency said it has ordered Sebring to continue water testing, and provide health screenings and bottled water or filtration systems to homes with unsafe lead levels.

It said it is providing $ 25,000 to the town for filtration systems.

Michigan city water crisis

As Sebring works to restore safe water, Flint is facing a similar battle — but on a much larger scale.

Flint, which has a population of about 100,000, has been dealing with contaminated water since it switched its water source nearly two years ago.

Michigan decided to save money by switching Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River, a notorious tributary that runs through a town known to locals for its filth.

The corrosive water did not get adequate treatment, a class-action lawsuit alleges, and caused lead to seep into the city’s water supply.

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