Tainted Ohio River water expected to reach Louisville Thursday - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Tainted Ohio River water expected to reach Louisville Thursday

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Ohio River water with chemicals from West Virginia is expected to reach Louisville by Thursday evening.

The Louisville Water Company says it had scientists in Cincinnati Tuesday morning working with the water company there. The Louisville Water Company still believes this is not a health concern for Louisville.

Water from the Ohio River comes to a reservoir on Frankfort Avenue, then it's tested by the Louisville Water Company and filtered before it comes to your tap.

Water Company scientists are now testing water samples from the West Virginia chemical spill last week. 

Kelley Dearing Smith with the Louisville Water Company says while Cincinnati shut down its water intake valves as a precaution, "We don't think we need to. We really do not see a need to do that. It's a taste and odor issue. We can deal with it with the carbon at our Payne Plant in Prospect. River bank filtration means we don't have to shut those intakes down because the ground is going to filter that compound out for us."

Kentucky Emergency Management, along with other state agencies are also monitoring the water quality. Emergency Management says at this time there are very minuscule amounts of the chemical being detected through ongoing testing and it does not pose a health risk at this time, and the threat will lessen each day.

Rengao Song, the Louisville Water Company Manager of Water Quality says, "The only concern we have is a little bit of sweet odor, that's when the carbon will come into play. The carbon will absorb this chemical." The chemical also smells like licorice.

Song says if the chemical is detected here, it'll be in parts per billion saying that's one drop in 500 bourbon barrels.

Dearing Smith says water customers should not be worried saying, "Public health is what we do at Louisville Water."

The Louisville Water Company also says its scientists conduct 200 water quality experiments each day and by the time the water is filtered, residents shouldn't notice anything different.

Song says, "Based on the latest calculation, it should be in Louisville around 9pm Thursday. So tomorrow morning, we'll go upstream to monitor from Cincinnati, Baghdad, Kentucky, Carrollton, Westport, Prospect."

But in Cincinnati, officials are testing samples from the Ohio River and they're turning off water intake valves. "In this situation we are running emergency mode," said Jeff Swertfeger of Greater Cincinnati Water Works. "We're running 24/7. This machine has gotten a lot of work over the last few days."

Last Thursday, Freedom Industries in Charleston, WV had a chemical spill into the Elk River. About 33 percent of West Virginia residents have now been cleared to use tap water again.

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