Is Piqua’s Water In Danger of Lead Contamination?

water treatment plant final

A number of legitimate questions have recently been asked as to whether the City of Piqua’s drinking water could become contaminated with lead as has happened in Flint, Michigan.  To better understand the cause of Flint’s problem, it really boils down to officials in Flint made the decision to change water sources and failed to add anti-corrosive chemicals to the water to prevent deterioration of water distribution lines.   As a result, the pipes deteriorated and released lead and other contaminants into the drinking water.

Below is a recent article written by our Water Treatment Division that explains our testing processes to ensure Piqua water is safe for all customers.

The ongoing water crisis in Flint Michigan with lead in the drinking water and the numerous reports of harmful algae across Ohio has brought a lot of fear and questions regarding water quality nationwide. The City of Piqua Water Treatment Plant follows strict EPA guidelines to ensure that the citizens of Piqua have safe drinking water.

The Ohio EPA requires the City to test for lead and copper every three years in our distribution system. Due to many years of being in compliance with EPA standards, our testing was reduced from yearly, to every two years, to what is now every three years.  Should we ever fall out of compliance, we would be required to once again test more frequently.

Subsequently, 2015 was our year for testing.  As required by the EPA, we collected 30 samples from different points throughout the city.  These sites included homes with both lead and copper plumbing.  All samples collected were once again well in compliance with EPA standards.  In addition to this required testing, we also perform copper tests once a month on our finished water leaving the plant as well as one sample from our distribution system.  These samples have always been within EPA standards as well.

In 2014, the City of Toledo reached a water crisis with the formation of a harmful algal bloom at their intakes to their water treatment plant. The water was deemed unsafe for consumption for approximately 72 hours.  Upon hearing of this situation, the City of Piqua took it upon itself to become proactive in the testing for harmful algae in our reservoir system and the Great Miami River.

Since that time, Piqua has applied for and received grant money from the Ohio EPA for training and testing equipment so that we may do our own testing at the water treatment plant. Although not yet mandated by the EPA, last year we conducted weekly tests to ensure that we were not having harmful algal blooms in our waterways.  At no time in 2015 did we detect any harmful algae in any of our three water sources.

The Ohio EPA is in the process of creating a monitoring schedule that will go in effect in 2017. With that schedule we will then be mandated to test for harmful algae as well as test for cyanotoxins.  (Cyanotoxins are toxins that are produced from harmful algal blooms.)  We will continue our own weekly testing in 2016 and then follow the guidelines as set forth by the EPA when they become active.

The new water treatment plant will incorporate granular activated carbon filters into the treatment process. These filters will greatly improve our treatment process as they will allow us to remove more organics and atrazine from the raw water.  These filters have also been deemed by the EPA as the best and most reliable treatment process to remove cyanotoxins from the water.

 

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Economic Development Update and Outlook

Winans Ribbon Cutting

2015 was very successful from an economic development standpoint.  Many new businesses opened and important business expansions took place.  The great news is that city staff members are currently working on an additional 15 legitimate economic development projects that hopefully will be underway or completed during 2016.

Here are some of the 2015 successes and highlights:

New Businesses and Business Expansions

  • Winans Hometown Store
  • Dunham’s Sports
  • Ruso Business Center
  • Harmony Systems Expansion
  • P&R Specialty Expansion
  • Nitto Expansion
  • El Herradero Mexican Grill
  • Harvest Pantry
  • Bobcat Training Facility
  • Comfort Inn Renovation
  • Planet Fitness
  • Family Farm & Home
  • Prather Automotive
  • One Best Tire & Service
  • Numerous Small Shops

Riverfront Redevelopment

  • Piqua Power Plant River/Trail Redevelopment
  • Downtown DPL Substation Acquisition & Demolition
  • Laundry Building Acquisition & Demolition
  • White Building Donation & Demolition
  • Edison Light Company Building Renovation
  • Mo’s Building Acquisition for Redevelopment
  • Vacant Lot Acquisitions for Redevelopment
  • Zollinger Building Acquisition for Redevelopment
  • Downtown Riverfront & Corridor Park Placemaking Plan

Historic East Piqua Revitalization Plan

  • Neighborhood and Street Improvements
  • Levy Utilization for Recreation
  • Trail Loop
  • Potential New Site of YMCA/National Guard
  • Sports Facilities
  • Potential Reuse of Industries

Quality of Life

  • Trail Town Designation
  • Bicycle Friendly Community Designation
  • Trail Wayfinding Signage
  • Safe Routes to School Improvements
  • Intersection Improvements
  • I-75 Interchange Traffic Signal Replacements
  • Pitsenbarger Park Accessible Playground
  • William Pitsenbarger Statue funded and erected by the Friends of the Piqua Parks
  • Trail Extension Study to North/East/West

The year 2016 should be more exciting and successful as 2015.

 

 

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New Initiatives for Piqua Being Considered

It is important that the Piqua City Government take the leadership role in advancing the quality of life for citizens, protecting the community resources, and investing in our future.  With those challenges before us, we are considering some new initiatives to help the community grow to it’s potential.  Here are some of the initiatives.

Water Stewardship

Much like the Dayton Rivers Institute, the Piqua Waters Stewardship Program is intended to bring community partners and resources together for the purpose of promoting, protecting, and preserving the area’s watershed through education and active involvement.

makers-space-14-of-14

In order to facilitate and encourage innovation in the manufacturing sector, the Piqua Makerspace is envisioned to be a centralized shared community facility providing manufacturing equipment for members to utilize that may not have access to such equipment.  The overall goal is to enable interested community members to design, prototype, and create manufacture products.

solar panel

Finding alternative renewable energy sources is important for the city’s future energy needs.  The city is investigating Alternative Energy Generation Facilities such as natural gas and solar power as potential long range resources.  The benefit of having such facilities within the City of Piqua would result in lower energy transmission costs and ultimately lower electric rates for customers.

Fire & Police 2

Because of the lack of training facilities in the region for Police and Fire Departments to conduct training exercises, we are studying the feasibility of converting the Old Water Treatment Plant into a Public Safety Training Center.  The facility would provide both education and hands-on training experiences from experts and universities.  The facility could also be utilized by public safety agencies throughout the region.

These are a few of the innovative ideas city staff are working on to ensure our city positions itself to grow existing businesses, attract new businesses and residents, and enhance the overall Quality of Life.

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Riverfront Development Update

Riverfront District Concept

Momentum continues on the Downtown Riverfront Development Project by both the public and private sectors.  It is tremendously encouraging to see the interest from the private sector.  The establishment of the Winans Hometown Store is a great example of the quality development that can and will take place, not only in the downtown and riverfront, but throughout the city, making Piqua a great and desired place to visit or start a business.

The City of Piqua continues to be a catalyst for encouraging both residential and commercial development.  Over the past three years, the city has acquired the Mo’s Lounge building (111 South Main), adjacent vacant lots (101 & 117 South Main), the Zollinger building (101 South Wayne Street), the DP&L substation (110 South Main), the Old Laundry building (117 East Water), and the White building (102 South Main).  The substation was eliminated and the latter two buildings were evaluated and determined to be of no redevelopment value.  Mo’s has been determined to have redevelopment potential as a restaurant, bike/canoe rental, and office space.  The Zollinger building is projected to be developed into downtown residential units.  Negotiations are currently underway with potential developers for both buildings.  The Old Laundry and White structures have since been demolished to make room for new redevelopment opportunities.  The city also has an option on the Piqua Granite property with the hopes of relocating the business to a more beneficial site to make room for connecting the downtown to the river.

Keith and Lisa Bowman recently acquired the Piqua Edison Electric Illuminating Company (aka Weaver’s) building at 114 East Water Street and are in the process of restoring the entire structure.  At this time, the Bowmans have not decided on the final use of the project but we expect it to be a great addition to the downtown.  The Piqua Milling buildings could also play a valuable role in the transition of the riverfront.  The property is currently privately owned and our hope is that the owners will convert it to a use to also benefit the riverfront and community.

iPIQUA Partnership Logo

Over the past few months, the iPiqua Partnership (imagine & invest in Piqua) has been formed to assist in the development of private properties.  In addition, the iPiqua Partnership created an iPiqua Fund a non-profit entity to assist the iPiqua Partnership in providing “gap funding” for businesses desiring to locate on the riverfront or in the downtown.

A key part of the Riverfront Development Project is the public lands which includes Lock 9 Park, the Great Miami River Trail, the PATH trail bridge, the Canal Corridor, and the Great Miami River itself.  The city has just entered into contract with Gamble Associates to design these public space areas in order to enhance and provide recreation opportunities for special events, concerts, river recreation, kayaking, canoeing, biking, tourism, and additional economic development venues.

Finally, the positive activities occurring with the Riverfront Development Project have helped encourage additional development and upkeep interest in the Downtown District.  Currently, Unity Bank and Fifth Third Bank are making interior and exterior improvements to their facilities.  New stores have opened such as Harvest Pantry, Mulligan’s Pub, 311 Draft House, Schmidlapp Library, Winans, and Can’t Stop Running.  The vacant Fifth Third Bank building on North Main and adjoining parking area on Spring Street are currently being proposed for development after sitting empty for almost 20 years.  We are seeing much development interest and expect even more.

We will continue to advance the project for the benefit of the entire Piqua community.

 

 

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City to Host Brownfield Workshop

IMG_56911

The City of Piqua will host a FREE Brownfields Workshop offered by the Ohio EPA.  The purpose of the workshop is to inform small and rural communities of the state and federal resources available to help redevelop brownfields or blighted properties.

The workshop will be held on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 from 9:30AM until 2:30Pm at the Fort Piqua Plaza Banquet Center.  Speakers will present strategies for identifying and prioritizing brownfield properties, grants, loans, and services to help communities with redevelopment, and computer programs for brownfield management and grant writing.

Speakers from Ohio EPA, Ohio Development Services Agency, JobsOhio, U.S. EPA, Great Lakes RCAP, USDA, and the Technical Assistance to Brownfields (TAB) Program will address the following topics:

  • U.S. EPA Brownfields Grants and Technical Assistance to Brownfields Program
  • Great Lakes Rural Community Assistance Program
  • Ohio Development Services Agency’s Brownfield Program
  • USDA Rural Development and Urban Agriculture Resources
  • JobsOhio Revitalization Program
  • Ohio EPA’s Voluntary Action Program, Small and Rural Community Brownfield Assistance, and Targeted Brownfield Assessments

You can register for the event at http://piquabrownfieldworkshop.eventbrite.com. Space is limited.

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A New Local Government Management Model

Local Gov

A recent article by Ed Everett – Senior Fellow at the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement of Pepperdine University – Today’s Local Government Management Model…It’s broken, so let’s fix it, proposes a new model for local government management.

Mr. Everett states that most local governments operate under the “Bitch and Fix” model.  Residents gripe and the elected body and local government manager believe the issue has to be fixed.  As a result, local governments take on more responsibility than they should and residents do not accept their share of the responsibility to improve the quality of life of the community.

The existing model makes the following assumptions…

Local government:

  • Is responsible for the quality of life of the community
  • Must solve people’s problems
  • Requires little of residents

Elected officials:

  • Are elected to fix all problems

Residents:

  • Act and feel like they should be treated as customers

Local government managers:

  • Try to make all the above happen

Under his proposed “Partnership” model, local governments need to work with residents acting like citizens.  The assumption is that local government will never be able to solve all problems without the active involvement by residents.  This doesn’t mean that local government should expect residents to pave streets, build infrastructure, or perform economic development.

The new proposed model does make the following assumptions…

Local government:

  • Can’t solve all problems and never could
  • Are partially – but not completely – responsible for the quality of life

Elected officials:

  • Set priorities and allocate resources for the most pressing issues

Residents:

  • Need to act more like citizens and less like customers
  • Must take shared responsibility for the quality of life in their neighborhoods

Local government managers:

  • Facilitate cooperative problem solving rather than always trying to solve the problems themselves

Whether you agree with the “Partnership” model or not, it does bring up some very valid points.  Local government cannot solve every community issue, nor should it.  Probably one of the most glaring examples is the property maintenance issue.  Local government is required by law to follow legal requirements to take action against violating property owners.  This generally is very time consuming and frustrating for residents.  Maybe a much more effective and quicker resolution could take place if neighbors talked with property owners to persuade cooperation in maintaining their properties.  Otherwise, we go through a continual cycle of required bureaucratic process.

In Piqua, we do have lots of citizen involvement (active participation) and engagement (knowledge about community issues).  Some great examples include our Adopt-A-Park program, Neighborhood Associations, Positively Promoting Piqua, Citizens for a Better Piqua, Active Piqua, POWW, MainSteet Piqua, Piqua Church Association, Friends of Piqua Parks, and the iPiqua Partnership.  These groups are taking on issues within the community.  But more of this is needed.

I would agree that the current model does not work well in some cases.  Hopefully, we can continue to expand our Piqua partnership with residents and progress for the betterment of the community.

 

 

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Third Graders View of Piqua

High Street 3rd Grade Class2High Street 3rd Grade Class

Mrs. Zimpher’s Washington Intermediate Elementary 3rd Grade Class working on their view of Piqua.

I was recently given a copy of the Washington Intermediate Elementary 3rd Grade Class project to develop their view of the Piqua community.  It is refreshing to see that the youth of this age have such a positive desire to protect and better the community.  Here’s their view of Piqua:

The community of Piqua, Ohio is located in the Northwest side of the state.  Piqua is the center of education with three (3) new schools, and a community college.  The Piqua Indians are the fantastic football team!  P-I-Q-U-A!

We are a large community with a mall and busy downtown.  We also have a lot of churches that are beautiful and have tall steeples.  We have proud and good Americans who have the right to vote in National and local elections.  We are worried about drugs, smoking, cussing, drinking, and drunk driving.  We are scared of people texting and driving while we play in our community.  We wear seatbelts to be safe.  We need to see better driving for safety of all people.  Citizens need to take care of our nice buildings and structures.  We would like to see less litter.  We want no more graffiti.  We want citizens to show kindness, and welcome others to live and work here.  We look forward to fun places to go with our families.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could see our community through the eyes of these children?  Thank you, Cindy Zimpfer and your 3rd Grade Class for giving us a much needed lesson!

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