Never mind. Barium levels in Ashland's iconic Lithia water fountain are the same as they've ever been.
Test results that showed they'd about doubled led to the shutting off of fountains on the Plaza and at Enders shelter in Lithia Park around the first of the month turned out to be a "false reading," according to a news release issued Friday by the city of Ashland. "Barium levels are actually about the same as they have historically been," the city said, and the throat-tickling trickle of mineral water once again flows from the fountains.
The level of barium in the water — around 5 parts per million — still exceeds safe drinking water standards but, since Lithia water is not a considered a community water source in the same manner as the drinking water delivered to homes and businesses through the city’s water distribution system, it is not required to meet the same drinking water standards. The EPA sets the level for safe drinking at no more than 2 parts per million. The test that led to the shut-off showed levels as high as 10.8 ppm.
Lithia water is tested regularly and any change from the historic levels of elements that make up this unique water have, and will continue to be a cause for further analysis, the city said. The water is not recommended for daily consumption and signs have been posted at the fountains to advise residents and visitors that it contains elevated levels of barium.