Outraged Steelton residents packed a borough council meeting and made quite the stir over the safety of their water Monday night.
Things got so rowdy one resident had to be escorted out of the meeting and borough leaders ended the meeting in an apparent effort calm the crowd.
"Why wasn't the public informed immediately," one resident emphatically asked.
Recently, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that Steelton Borough Water Authority was fined $55,200 for drinking water treatment and reporting violations that occurred in 2013.
On November 20, 2013, DEP conducted a filter plant evaluation and sanitary inspection of Steelton's filter plant treatment system. During the inspection, DEP discovered the following violations:
· Steelton failed to provide adequate disinfection of Giardia lamblia, an organism commonly found in surface water that is capable of causing disease, for at least 24 days in 2013; Steelton also did not report this to DEP
· Steelton failed to record filtered water turbidity levels, a measurement of the cloudiness of the water which is an indicator of water quality, for 108 separate days in 2013
· Steelton's former operator falsely reported to DEP during the months of August, September and October 2013 that filtered water turbidity had been recorded and the readings were all acceptable
· Steelton operated several modifications to the facilities without a Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) permit
According to the SDWA, a plant that treats surface water must provide reliable inactivation of Giardia through disinfection. Steelton did not meet this requirement, which was created to protect public health.
"The truth is we are doing exactly what we are told to do. We are doing exactly what we are told. Our water is fine. There is nothing wrong with our water...nothing ever wrong with our water. It's blown out...completely blown out of proportion," Mayor Tom Acri said.
The borough said it fired the plant's chief operator and it was not required to send notices to customers in November because steps were taken to correct the parasite issue.
The state has been checking the plant weekly.
Both the borough and the state said the water is okay to drink.