Test results show contamination
Water tests done at four sites in and close to the unincorporated community of Richmond show that the sites are contaminated by human waste. Three Department of Natural Resources (DNR) employees reported the results of testing done in August and September to the Washington County Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning during the supervisors’ weekly meeting.
Richmond residents who have been opposed to the lagoon system for treating sewage raised doubts in August about the accuracy of the tests done in 2001. Further testing was done in August and September. The final results were completed Oct. 16.
“We collected water samples from four different locations,” Terry Jones of the DNR said. “Had them analyzed for fecal coliform bacteria, E. coli, ammonia and caffeine.”
In response to a question from Supervisor Jim Miksch, Russell Royce of the DNR said that the test results indicated high ammonia and bacteria amounts.
Dennis Ostwinkle said that the health standard for E. coli is 235. The test results came in as high as 1.6 million. He said that if that limit reaches 235 for any of Iowa’s beaches, swimmers are warned.
Ostwinkle also said, “We could go to court with the 2001 samples. You have some issues up there.”
Supervisor Adam Mangold said that he invited the DNR to the meeting to report on the test results. Mangold said he had the results last week.
Candidate for Supervisor District 1 Kay Ciha asked Mangold if he had given a copy of the results to the other four supervisors.
Mangold said he had not.
Supervisor Ron Bennett said he didn’t know that DNR was going to be on the agenda until he received the agenda Friday.
The test results were virtually ignored when the supervisors reconvened the public hearing that started Thursday, Oct. 18. Miksch said there is a public health problem, which was the first of three key points to the proposed Richmond sewer project. The second is that the county has expended money. The third is that the county still has to satisfy the DNR.
“In my mind, the DNR is not going to accept an alternative system unless there is an engineering report,” Miksch said.
The supervisors again heard from opponents to the proposed lagoon system, Bill Knutson, David Rosen, Randy Berg, and Jeff Goodwin.
John Berdo of Washington told the supervisors that the issue has gone on long enough and it was time to move the project forward. His remarks were not received well by the Richmond residents because he doesn’t live in Richmond.
As reported Tuesday in The Journal, the supervisors adopted a resolution to proceed with the project and the next steps at next week’s board meeting. That meeting is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 30 in the basement of the county courthouse.