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Help find source of problem

Dealing with a contaminant in Bridgeport’s water system appears to be a relatively simple matter — for now.

But until the source of the problem is identified, it could remain a headache for village officials and residents.

Last week, village officials were notified that tests indicated the water system contains an unacceptable level of per- and polyfluoralkyl substances, or PFAS. The substance, used once in products such as nonstick cookware, has been deemed a health risk.

Fortunately, it appears the contamination is — for now, at least — limited to two of the five wells from which the village pumps water.

After being notified of the issue following a round of water quality testing, officials on July 16 stopped drawing water from the two problem wells.

Other steps, including flushing waterlines, are being taken to deal with the concern.

One of them is obtaining water from Martins Ferry’s system, which is connected to Bridgeport’s.

PFAS are among a number of chemicals once used commonly, but which have been discontinued after being found to be health hazards. Finding out precisely where the chemical contaminating Bridgeport’s two wells originated may be difficult, if not impossible.

But efforts need to be made to learn how the PFAS got into the two wells.

If it is present in groundwater, it eventually could affect other wells.

Ohio Environmental Protection Agency analysts, who regularly test public water systems for PFAS and other contaminants, should assist Bridgeport in investigating the source of the chemical.

If it is present in groundwater, which seems likely, village officials need to know what, if anything, needs to be done to prevent problems in the future. For both that investigation and, if necessary, mitigation work in the future, state and/or federal aid may be required. It should be provided.

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