This is Berea’s municipal water plant – a dwarf compared to Cleveland’s system, which draws from Lake Erie. Berea’s system draws water from the Racke River’s east branch, and occasionally Kole Lake. On average, two millions gallons a day. It has an intake pond, two big tanks, and two open pools known as clarifiers. By the time it gets to homes on several streets in both Berea and Olmstead Falls, including Amy Casisco’s home, it looks like this.
Bath water starts out slightly yellow, but as the water gets deeper, so does the color. Abby’s documented the problem repeatedly.
Casisco: It ranges from urine colored to like a dark – almost like a brownish-yellow. It’s gross.
To be honest, on the day we visited it wasn’t great but it wasn’t horrible. But Addy’s pictures show how bad it gets. In one photo, a deep brown at bath time.
Casisco: I get grossed out when I give her a bath, because the water’s yellow and I’m like – I feel like I’m trying to clean her in water that looks dirty.
Kathcart: …and every pipe is just clogged with it. Shower heads don’t last, all of our stuff is (unintelligible) in the house, and it dies within, like, six months. It’s supposed to last years, a lot of this.
Amy is not alone. Sandy Kathcart’s home got so bad that they installed a water filter to protect her family. As she changed the cartridge, we were able to dramatically see the problem.
Kathcart: And this has been two weeks.
The filter on the right is a new one. The same color the one on the left when it was installed two weeks ago. Before we arrived Sandy had put a new filter on as an experiment.
Kartcart: I was in the shower for five minutes today, and that is five minutes of water.
Another experiment… She washes dishes for a very short period of time. Later she took a picture of what that small amount of water did to the new filter. She and other have documented email exchanges with Mayor Cyril Kleem, who in June said he had just become aware of the problem. But more than four months later, it’s still going on.
And as promised, Mayor Kleem’s representative went to Sandy’s home but had no good news.
Kartcart: He said basically, “We’ll test for bacteria…” but he said “Do what you gotta do”, is what he told me. He said “I wouldn’t drink that water either.” So, I mean, who would? Who would feed it to their kids, or put it in baby bottles, or coffee, or anything?
Casisco: Anytime we cook we try to do the water from the fridge, because it’s filtered. The water from any of the faucets is just yellow.
Kartcart : He goes we don’t test for metals but it’s in the water. I can see it.
Casisco: It’s just funky tasting. You can taste like, I don’t know, metal-ly. A metallic taste in the water.
We took a discolored sample to Mayor Cyril Kleem.
Mayor Kleem: I’ll be honest. I wouldn’t drink that.