Jennifer Barker

In this photo from May, Fairview Circle K employee Jennifer Barker covers a drink machine after E. coli was found in the water.

FAIRVIEW ­– The Town of Fairview is seeking a grant to upgrade its water filtration system.

According to Marion County Health Department Administrator Lloyd White, Fairview recently applied to the George W. Bowers Family Charitable Trust for a grant of around $25,000 for the upgrade.

“Once that gets done, clearly it will give them a better opportunity to filter the water more cleanly,” he said. “When you’re able to filter the water and take out more contaminants, then it takes less disinfection to get the residual necessary to meet state code requirements.”

Earlier this year, the town had an E. coli scare. Traces of the germ were found in the town’s water supply in late May, which forced officials to close local schools and some businesses.

White believed the town uses a large greensand filter in its plant. The upgrade would involve replacing the sand, he said.

He likened the upgrade to changing the oil filter on a car.

“When it gets dirty and nasty, we put a new one on,” he said. “That’s the same thing they’re doing.”

He said the town’s filter is old.

He noted that greensand is a specially-manufactured sand just for filtration.

“Sand, when you look under a microscope, it’s not smooth, it’s got all kind of jagged edges on it,” he said. “That’s the purpose of having the greensand. With those edges, that’s what catches the bacteria and the contaminants, and it contains it there. When those edges get worn off, you have a slick sand. It doesn’t do it.”

A boil water notice for Fairview was put in place May 30, which was later lifted June 6, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

Previously, White told the Marion County Commission at one of its meeting that short-term interventions with the Fairview water system appeared to be working because the samples were coming back clean.

White said Thursday that there have been “no complaints.”

Some of the short-term measures included flushing the system more often in the far points of the system, increasing sampling requirements and doubling disinfection of water as it leaves the plant.

White said the upgrade of the filter, however, would be a “long-term” solution. He said replacing the sand filter “will give them a better opportunity to have a higher level of filtration and disinfection,” saying such action “reduces the risk that further contaminants will get into the water.”

Escherichia coli bacteria are normally found in the intestines of healthy people and animals, according to The Mayo Clinic. Most varieties of E. coli are harmless or cause relatively brief diarrhea. However, one strain can cause abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting if ingested.

Based in Wheeling, the George W. Bowers Family Charitable Trust carries out the legacy of the late George W. Bowers. A businessman and resident of Mannington, Bowers supported numerous civic causes – both with his time and financial donations. He served in the West Virginia Senate from 1921-1924.

Eric Hrin can be reached at 304-367-2549, or ehrin@timeswv.com.

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