Water Co. Head Questioned on Violation

The Jenkinsville Water Company held their monthly board meeting Monday night and shared their most recent operations updates with the public, particularly the recent contamination violations discovered by Data Resource Laboratory earlier in July.

Jenkinsville Mayor and Board President Gregrey Ginyard led the update during the “Open discussion for customers /visitors” agenda item, where Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), representatives Sonya Johnson and Doug Kinard were in attendance to address public concerns.

According to Kinard, Director of Drinking Water Protection, Ginyard met with DHEC enforcement officials earlier Monday morning to address compliance violations regarding the water samples that tested positive for E. Coli at separate sites July 5.

“No decision has been made yet and no sanctions are going to be taken,” Kinard said.

Ginyard took an opportunity to further explain the purpose of the DHEC enforcement conference.

“The violation came in when the samples were supposed to be pulled within a 24 hour period,” Ginyard said. “Mr. Green didn’t get back out within a 24 hour period to re-sample or to get the boil water notice done, so that created the violation. The re-sampling was done, all six well sites were sampled, the resident with positive E. Coli was sampled — in total 19 different samples were pulled — they all came back absent.”

Ginyard said both he and Green met with DHEC to explain the company’s failure to act immediately and collect follow-up samples to be tested again within a mandatory time line as required by the State.

“There are a lot of different reasons that E. Coli could have been found in that first sample,” Ginyard said. “It could have been contaminated in pulling the sample, the bottle, the trip there, at the lab, a lot of different reasons.  This is the reason why DHEC requires us to go back to pull that second sample, and we did that.”

Board Member Willie Robinson then questioned Ginyard about the delayed water boil advisory and the chain of command within the company.

“Who’s over Mr. Green?” Robinson asked.

“Who’s over him? We [the Board] are,” Ginyard said.

“You are,” Robinson continued. “You are the head in this company, right? At this time happened, you didn’t know anything about it?”

When Ginyard confirmed that he did not, Robinson asked him if he was certain.

“What do you mean am I sure about it? Yes sir, I didn’t know anything about it until Monday,” Ginyard said. “I was out of town.  Did you know anything?”

“Did I know anything? Mr. Green didn’t call me,” Robinson said. “He should have called you. Did you leave any word with Mr. Green if anything should happen to call you immediately?”

“Mr. Green is the managing operator,” Ginyard said. “He handles that. Why would he call me for that?”

“Because that’s what you’re for,” Robinson said. “You’re the manager aren’t you?”

“No sir,” Ginyard said, “I’m not the manager.”

Following a question from the audience, Ginyard assured customers that the water was safe to drink.

Eric Rushkee, a legal representative for customer Jeff Schaffer was first to comment during the open discussion, and asked a series of questions regarding the response to the initial lab findings by the water company, including details surrounding Green’s certification. Rushkee inquired if any other Board members were notified of the water report.

“I was notified on Monday,” Ginyard said. “As far as if any other Board members were notified, I don’t know.”

Board Vice President Joseph McBride confirmed his knowledge of the incident.

“I was notified,” McBride said. “Whatever date it was, I received an e-mail from Laurie Smith [Secretary] and I contacted Mr. Green to find out what needed to be done and he said new samples had to be taken and he said he was on top of it and that was it.”

At the time of his hire, Green possessed a Water Operators License and is currently in good standing with Labor License and Regulations, Ginyard said later.

D. Melton, an operations manager of a nearby residential camp, said he heard rumors of the contamination incident that Wednesday (July 4), but his entire camp was never notified of the Boil Water Advisory, and a resident became ill as a result.

According to Ginyard, the contamination occurred at the top of the water system, specifically at John Bryce Road and Newberry Road, Highway 34.  He further explained all major news outlets were notified and notices were posted locally, including at convenience stores and at the post office.

“Once we were on TV, I figured if anybody had any questions, especially Board members, they would call,” Ginyard said.

“We should know about it from you — from the company, not from the TV,” Robinson said. “That’s what we’re on this Board for.  If anything goes on we should be notified immediately, and not some of the Board members.”

Johnson said DHEC and water companies often use mass media to notify the public.

“In this case we used mass media, the ones where we hope a lot of people will catch the news,” Johnson said. “Whether it is Greenville or Jenkinsville, they [media outlets] are really good about getting the news advisories out.”

Green, the Water Systems Operator and main topic of discussion, was working at the time and not in attendance at the meeting, but later made a statement on the record to The Voice.

According to Green, he was in the field at the time the incident was reported to him.  He confirmed his receipt of the e-mail Friday afternoon, July 6, around 3 p.m.  He said he made the call but was unable to reach his DHEC point of contact, Wendy Smith, to report the issue and forwarded the e-mail to her as a result.

“I tried to call DHEC and I didn’t get through,” Green said. “The Board, they don’t really get into the operations. I didn’t contact Ginyard until Monday morning. He was out of town.”

Green primarily works alone to manage the administrative and field and operations for all wells and sites.  He said he didn’t think his job was in jeopardy considering this particular violation was his first issue.

Green also confirmed his credentials, including Water Distribution, Water Treatment and Physical Chemical Waste Water Licenses, where he has 24 years of experience in the latter and three years currently with the Jenkinsville Water Company.