FAIRFIELD, Ohio — Public works officials on Monday warned the public to stay away from the Great Miami River between Joyce Park and State Route 27, where runoff from disrupted treatment systems at the Fairfield sewer plant could cause elevated levels of bacteria.
“Recreational activities such as swimming, fishing, wading and kayaking should be avoided,” wrote Fairfield Public Utilities representatives in a safety advisory.
Anyone who comes into contact with the water should wash themselves soon afterward and seek medical care if they become sick.
“The advisory will be cleared once all treatment systems are fully restored at Fairfield’s sewer plant,” according to the advisory.
Fairfield public utilities director Adam Sackenheim said the water at the sewer plan it still being partly treated, but the disinfecting system, which is the last step in the treatment pan, which is out of service. A glitch in the power distribution equipment fried the instruments that applies UV lights to the water, killing pathogens before they reach the river.
"We are less than .8% of what is going into the river," Sackenheim said. "Okay, so we do have dilution. That is helping our cause in this situation, but again, you know, we just wanted to make sure that we were transparent."
Tap water in the area is still safe to drink. Thinks like solid waste, ammonia and other nutrients are still being cleaned from the wastewater, but htere may be other dangerous elements like E. Coli bacteria.
“If they had some notification, that gives you an idea of how dangerous the water is, on that particular day, it would give me a little bit more running knowledge as to what am I expecting out of the water at that time,” Colerain Township resident Megan Beehan-Dorr said.
Beehan-Dorr walks her dogs at Heritage Park, part of the affected area. She wasn't aware of the malfunction at the sewer plant, so she let her dogs play in the river. Now concerned for the safety of her pets, she said she wished officials had alerted the public more effectively and put signage up at the park.
"A lot of these kind of pathogens can be a problem really fast to an animal," Meehan-Dorr said. "Ao it's hart to know what I would be able to do to protect my own pet and people with their children should be monitoring that too."