Wednesday, November 10th, 2010
By Shelley Grieshop
Water line mix-up may be related to recent sickness
  ST. MARYS - A recent water line problem in the Villa Nova/Sandy Beach area may have caused at least two people to become sick after exposure to Grand Lake water, officials said.
Three people reportedly were treated at a local hospital this weekend for minor gastrointestinal infections following the intrusion of lake water into the city of St. Marys' water line along the northeast side of Grand Lake. Officials confirmed one of the illnesses was not related to the lake but suspect the remaining cases are linked.
A "boil water advisory" was issued about noon Saturday in the Villa Nova/Sandy Beach area after a water main broke near Jack Oak Point where fire crews were battling a structure fire. Firefighters began using lake water to extinguish the fire without immediately realizing it was flowing for a brief time into the city's water line, according to EMA and St. Marys city officials.
Auglaize County Environmental Health Director Curt Anderson told board members Tuesday that some residents "were pulling lake water through their shower heads" and other faucets in their homes.
Residents in about 700 homes were instructed to boil their water before use, dump all water and ice that had been collected, flush water lines and hot water heaters and thoroughly clean equipment such as ice makers.
The advisory was lifted Monday after EPA officials reviewed the results of water quality tests.
County health commissioner Charlotte Parsons said past problems with the lake's water quality made the situation worse.
"Of course the worry was with the toxins," she said.
Toxic blue-green algae blooms found in the lake earlier this summer led to the posting of advisories warning people and animals to have no contact with the water. Those advisories recently were lifted after tests showed safe levels had returned.
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