SEBRING, Ohio -- Sebring Local Schools are closed Monday as the Ohio EPA conducts additional water testings.
Last week, residents in Sebring, a small town about 70 miles southeast of Cleveland, were warned not to drink the tap water, after some samples from homes turned up unsafe levels of lead.
In a statement released Sunday, Ohio EPA reported water samples are below federal guidelines among the 25 of 28 tested homes. EPA also tested the city's water treatment plant, and confirmed results were "healthy" and had "no detectable lead."
Ohio EPA will have additional tests at McKinley Junior/Senior High and BL Elementary School.
The schools posted an update Sunday:
I am cancelling classes tomorrow, Monday, January 25th, due to additional testing that the EPA has requested. The initial water testing was done by taking samples from a few areas in the school buildings. They have requested to test all water outlets in both buildings. I appreciate your patience and support as we go through this process. This closure is for the safety and well-being of all of our students. The career center students will have school tomorrow and we will host the junior high basketball game as bottled water and hand sanitizer will be available.
Ohio EPA posted a water testing update on the following schools:
- West Branch High School: All five tests had no detection of lead.
- McKinley Junior/Senior High: Four tests had no detection of lead, but one water fountain had higher than the allowable level.
- BL Elementary School: Three tests had no detection of lead and two detection were below the allowable levels
Pregnant women and children are told not to drink the water until results have been deemed safe after testing for six months.
The city has undergone harsh scrutiny following the water advisory. Ohio EPA says it is working to remove the license of the water treatment operator. Jim Bates is the current licensed operator.
“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 Ohio EPA Director
Craig W. Butler.
“It has become apparent that our field office was too patient in dealing with the village of Sebring’s ‘cat and mouse’ game and should have had closer scrutiny on the water system meeting its deadlines,” said Butler. “We are in the process of developing new protocols and appropriate personnel actions to ensure that our field staff takes action when it appears that a water system is not complying and taking their review seriously.”
On Monday, State Rep. John Boccieri released a statement.
"Tonight the people of Sebring and surrounding communities have a right to be upset and question the response to this water crisis," he said. "At this moment, the EPA should be focused on Ohioans' fundamental right to safe, clean drinking water."