Recent concerns that the Clinton water system may be subject to contamination are ill founded, Dickie Hink, Clinton Water and Sewer Department head, stated.

Hink said his department had received a tip last week that pain work taking place at Clinton school, namely the stripping of paint on some doorways and structures, may be putting lead-based paint into the sewer system, which in turn could introduce it into the water system. After an inspection of the environment by the department he was satisfied this was not the case, Hink said.

The department went through a series of steps once the concern about the pain waste was made to it, he said. At the time the complaint came in the department's two plumbing inspectors were sent out to inspect to make sure no waste from the paint-stripping was making it into the water system. The inspectors checked both the sewer system nearby, at two points, downstream from the school and found no waste at either site, then checked the working environment for the paint contractor to make sure there was not a spot where waste could be introduced, as, for example, through a drain at a mop sink. No discrepancy was found.

“[We] looked in two manholes down from school and saw nothing,” Hink said.

The department has retained a sample of paint waste from the stripping in the event of future concerns. Hink said the waste appeared to have characteristics more in line with enamel than anything lead-based in his opinion.

The paint contractor acknowledged the responsibility to clean up after stripping as they the department was investigating, and had agreed to do that from the start of its contract, Hink said.

Hink went on to explain that, even if the contractor failed to clean up, and even if the paint contained lead, the opportunity for it to enter the local water supply was, at best, remote. For the paint waste to enter the water system it would have to, first, go into the sewer system, then be picked up by the auger portion of the system, then make it past the sewer system aerator, after which it is sprayed into the air, then would have to seep in through the ground, into the soil, and then enter the Red River which then feeds the city water supply, essentially an eight-step process, he said.