Testing finds Legionella at M-U schools building

By Matt Clevenger

For Miami Valley Today

WEST MILTON — Tests have confirmed the presence of Legionella bacteria in water samples taken at Milton-Union Schools.

“We got some results back today,” utilities supervisor Tim Swartztrauber told village council members during their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 25. “We did get Legionella on the cold side, instead of the hot side.”

Two water outlets at the Milton-Union Schools building tested over the limit for Legionella bacteria. The district has contracted with Solid Blend Technologies to complete the disinfection process sometime within the next seven days, in time for students’ first day of school on Sept. 8.

“We started back in early July testing the water,” Swartztrauber said. “We actually do that for all of the concession stands, locker rooms before they start up the season we do bacteria testing to make sure everything’s good and to know that the water is safe …

“We knew we had a problem,” he said. “We knew something was wrong, because of the way the chlorine was getting eaten up.”

Swartztrauber contacted experts at Purdue University, who agreed to test the district’s water free of charge, through grants from the National Science Foundation. The tests were conducted on Saturday, Aug. 15.

“They did about $70,000 worth of testing in the school,” Swartztrauber said. “We did ice machines; we did everything.”

“We tested 100 different water outlets in the school,” he said. “We took about 900-1,000 samples, and we did 1,500 different tests on the water.”

A total of 19 Purdue University volunteers worked on the water testing. “I worked with a team of nine that came down from Purdue,” Swartztrauber said. “It’s incredible what they did; $70,000 is just for the testing, that’s not including their time.”

Full results from the testing will be released to council members. “I can’t really go into detail right now,” Swartztrauber said. “I just got the e-mail of the full report; so I haven’t really gone through it.”

Volunteers also tested water samples from three hydrants outside the school building, and agreed to design a maintenance plan for future shut-downs. “We had nothing in our water, everything was in the school,” Swartztrauber said.

“They’re going to design a maintenance program,” he said. “So when they’re shut down for two weeks, it’s what they need to flush and at what rate they need to flush.”

• In other business, council members also heard reports on several other village projects, including a new water pipe that was recently connected across the Stillwater River and annual catch basin repairs. Council also heard a report on an existing water pipe running under the bridge with little or no insulation left.

“It’s got fiberglass insulation with a stainless steel wrap on it,” service director Ben Herron said of the old water pipe. “When it’s really getting cold in January and February, this should be done.”

Workers recently finished installing a polyethylene liner into another underground water pipe running under the bridge. The 485-foot-long Kevlar and polyethylene liner has been installed in the existing water pipe, and is fully functional. “We have water to the other side of the bridge,” Herron said. “The pressure seems to be extremely good.”

Council members also discussed a proposed plan to begin offering municipal trash service. Currently, the plan would include hiring one additional village employee, and leasing two trash trucks for trash hauling and large trash pick-up.

“We know we have over 1,700 customers,” municipal manager Matt Kline said. “We can afford to lower the cost of garbage hauling to all of our residents across the board.”

Trash prices would be locked in for several years, and the village would also add services like brush hauling and a spring clean-up. “We feel very confident that we can do this,” Kline said. “It is a small, very miniscule savings for the first year, but we know that we’re not going to be coming back to increase the rates for quite awhile.”

Some council members voiced opposition to the plan. “It would be nice if people had the ability to opt-out,” council member Chris Horn said.

“To me, trash service isn’t something government should even be in,” council member Jason Land said. “I’m just not comfortable with it. At least now we have a very thin semblance of choice.”

“I like the idea,” Mayor Anthony Miller said. “We’re able to control the service. I know what level of service our employees are going to give.”

Council members plan to vote on a resolution approving the trash program as soon as next month, because the trash trucks are on an approximately 100-day backorder. “If we’re going to do this, we need to get in line and get these ordered,” Kline said.

Village council’s next meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8.