Whole Lotta Confusion About the Water Quality in Berea

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Two stories from Cleveland 19 this week have muddied the perceptions of the water supply in Berea, offering readers blatant contradictions and stoking fears about lead coursing through the city's pipelines.

"Water drawn from taps in various locations in the city turned up crystal clear, yellow and brown and the opinions from residents varied just the same after the story was posted on Facebook [on Monday]," according to Cleveland 19. It's unclear what that meant. (Berea maintains its own water supply.)

Here's how the story began: Reporter Paul Orlousky himself followed up on reports of "discolored and odd tasting water" at three homes, and testing confirmed the presence of lead in resident Abby Kocisko's home. (The testing appears to have been funded by Cleveland 19 and conducted by Summit Environmental Technologies.) Orlousky and the news station notified Mayor Cyril Kleem's office. Kleem called the story "mostly false."

Orlousky showed Kleem a bottle of water that came from Kocisko's home; Kleem said he would not drink that water. Cleveland 19's headline insisted that "mayor won't drink city's supply."

Kleem denied that narrative and posted his thoughts on Tuesday: "Here's an update from the water story. Channel 19 tested water from three homes on Fair St., where we are doing major construction to replace the water and sewer lines. Of the three samples, one had detections of lead. This sample was taken from the bathtub by the homeowner. We have already followed up with the EPA to look into this further. We are not certain if the sample was taken properly or if it was impacted by the construction. I'll keep you posted, give us some time to look into this. In the meantime, I'm going to drink some unfiltered Berea water as I do every day."

He responded to a comment from Kocisko, saying that the city will continue to test the water in her neighborhood.

Cleveland 19 later posted a second story, doubling back on itself to report that, yes, Kleem says he drinks Berea's water.

The city is offering free water quality tests to residents, and will no doubt continue discussing this issue both in the social media sphere and in the real-life sphere at, e.g., upcoming City Council meetings.

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