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Rome could take legal action over Oostanaula pollutants

November 4, 2019–8:38 p.m.

STAFF REPORT

At the request of City Attorney Andy Davis, the Rome City Commission approved a resolution Monday night aimed at protecting the local drinking water supply.

That could include legal action.

For many years, Rome relied on the Oostanaula for drinking water, but there has been pollution from PFOA and PFOS, which are fluorinated organic chemicals that have been used to make carpets, clothing, and fabrics.

In 2016, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency issued a health advisory, setting exposure for drinking water at 70 parts per million.

At the time of the announcement readings in the Oostanaula were twice that.

The city took emergency action and temporarily switched intake to the Etowah River.

“The dwindling supply of the Etowah River is insufficient to supply the needs Rome and Floyd County in the long-term,” Davis said.  “So, the City of Rome must be able to safely treat the Oostanaula River to overcome pollution caused by these PFCs.”

The city also placed granular activated carbon in the existing sand filtration at the water plant which has seen good results.

However, these results came with a cost

The installation of the GAC, the periodic replacement of the system, construction of a new water line is proposed, and the pump station improvement to extract water from the Etowah for treatment are estimated to cost, presently and in the future, $20,000,000,” Davis said.

He added a more permanent solution is needed.

“Upon research, information and belief there are certain manufacturers and distributors, including carpet manufacturers, that through their water treatment processes and through leeching into the groundwater along the river, the uses of their products have discharged into the Conasauga River, which flows into the Oostanaula,” Davis added.  “So, we are asking the city commission to declare this a public nuisance and to allow us to move forward to try and take action to abate the public nuisance.”

The commission approved the resolution unanimously.

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