How safe is Dayton’s drinking water? New panel says it will find out

Local community leaders will meet with U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, over coming months to evaluate the safety of Dayton’s water supply following the city’s February water outage and concerns about environmental hazards at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The group will explore hiring a national, independent consultant to study the system and identify potential problems. The 13-person panel met in private Wednesday for an inaugural meeting.

“Although there’s nothing that would indicate at this time that our water might be unsafe … it is good for us to come together as a community and review where we are with water quality,” Turner said before the meeting.

MORE: Nearly $1M to fix water line behind largest outage in Dayton’s history

February’s water outage spilled at least 100 million gallons of treated water into the Great Miami River, forcing businesses and schools to close across Montgomery County.

The Dayton Daily News Path Forward project digs into solutions for the most pressing issues facing our community, including ensuring drinking water safety. Last month, the Dayton Daily News reported contaminants have been found in parts of the water supply at Wright-Patt and in much of Montgomery County at levels safe to drink.

The city and Wright-Patt officials also are dealing with chemicals found in firefighting foam — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS — showing up in local water supplies. The city determined last year that Dayton’s firefighter training center on McFadden Avenue was also a potential source of groundwater contamination.

No one from Wright-Patt is represented on the panel. Turner said base officials would be contacted during the consultant’s study. The base supplies its own water and does not draw from the city’s supply.

RELATED: What you need to know about chemicals in water

Turner did not say how much money he expects the panel to spend, nor where its funding would originate. Those topics would be discussed at the first meeting, he said.

Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein attended the meeting and said money “really wasn’t talked about.”

Turner said he wants to be “very public” about the panel. He declined, however, to make the meetings open to the public.

“We’re having it in private because, actually, we don’t know all the issues we need to discuss,” Turner said. “Obviously, the work of the consultant will be public and the work with the county and city will be very public.”

Turner, a former Dayton mayor, said he would have welcomed such an inquiry during his time at city hall.

“We are always willing to talk about water, even when people want to be political about it,” Mayor Nan Whaley said.

Turner assigned Tom Raga, a Dayton Power & Light executive, to lead the board. Other members of the board include:

• Steven Johnson, president and chief executive of Sinclair Community College

• Debbie Lieberman, Montgomery County commissioner

• Trotwood Mayor Mary McDonald

• Mary Boosalis, president and chief executive of Premier Health

• Terry Burns, chief operating officer of Kettering Health Network

• Dave Dickerson, president of Dayton construction sales and development for Miller-Valentine Group

• Shelley Dickstein, Dayton city manager

• Jill Dietrich, director of the Dayton VA Medical Center

• Jeff Hoagland, president and chief executive of the Dayton Development Coalition

• Phillip Parker, president and chief executive of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

• Erhardt Preitauer, president and chief executive of CareSource

• Eric Spina, president of the University of Dayton.

Read more coverage:

» Progress slow in addressing chemicals in local water

» ‘Nearly catastrophic’ break a glimpse of vulnerabilities to area’s water

About the Path Forward

Like all of you, we care deeply about our community, and want it to be the best it can be. There is much to celebrate in the Dayton region, but we also face serious challenges. If we don’t find solutions to them, our community will never be its best. Last year, we formed a team to dig into the most pressing issues facing the Miami Valley. The Path Forward project, with your help and that of a 16-member community advisory board, seeks solutions to issues readers told us they were most concerned about. That includes investigating the security and sustainability of our drinking water, one of our region’s most critical assets.

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