HUBBARD TOWNSHIP Student discovers troubled water

'Horrible' is a word used to describe some well water in Hubbard Township.
HUBBARD -- Joelle Wells has seen some horrific-looking well water.
The 17-year-old Hubbard High School senior used her interest in biology and equipment provided by Westminster College to test 17 residential wells in Hubbard Township.
"Horrible" is how she describes the drinking water supply to some homes, based on test results and observations.
Frank Migliozzi, director of environmental health at the Trumbull County Health Department, said Wells' results could be legitimate if proper testing procedures were followed. Township Trustee Fred Hanley said the student's test results will be used to restate the township's need for a public water supply.
Science fair project
Wells undertook the study as her biology class science fair project.
She has made a presentation to township trustees, and she won a $1,000 scholarship from WCI Steel during competition at Youngstown State University and $150 in savings bonds from the American Waterworks Association and Trumbull Business College.
She'll be competing for state science fair honors May 3 in Columbus.
Wells, who plans to study biology at Westminster, decided to test for levels of phosphates and nitrates.
It took her about three weeks to conduct the tests because she had to schedule them on her free time and at the homeowners' convenience.
Wells said that because the Environmental Protection Agency doesn't have a phosphate standard for residential drinking water, she used the EPA level of 0.025 milligrams per liter used for stream and lake water.
All above level
All 17 wells she tested were above the 0.025 level at which bacteria and algae can grow.
Wells explained that one new 250-foot well had a phosphate level of 2.06, far above the standard.
The amateur water analyzer said the high phosphate levels should be of concern.
Based on EPA standards, Wells also tested the wells for nitrates. Fifteen wells were below the standard 10 milligrams per liter, except for two on Richardson Drive.
One tested 40 and the other 30.
"That means they're real bad," she said.
Photographs of water from one Richardson Drive home had the appearance of coffee, the other, tea.
One homeowner, she noted, has gone through four hot water tanks because of rust.
Indicator of bacteria
Migliozzi said high levels of phosphates and nitrates would indicate bacteria in the water.
Nitrates, Wells explained, also react with hemoglobin in the blood of humans and animals, producing a condition that destroys the ability of red blood cells to transport oxygen.
Although Hanley pointed out that Wells' findings are narrow, they do show the need for a public water supply throughout the township, not just along Richardson.
The county has approved an agreement with Consumers Ohio Water Co. to install waterlines in the Richardson area.