Thursday, July 7, 2011

Paying for Water Well Contamination Sampling Becomes Contentious Issue

By Duane Craig

Well water contamination
From Stamford, Connecticut comes evidence of how the cost of environmental monitoring for contamination galvanizes opposing views of government’s role.

Residents there are grappling with a proposal that would subsidize the costs for private well owners to have their water tested for pesticides. The homeowners would pay a flat $100 and the city would pick up the rest of the tab. One estimate placed the cost of testing 750 wells at $92,500, or about $125 per well. The initiative was put forward in 2010 by one of the city representatives because of soil and water contamination that has been discovered within the city limits.

This contamination goes back years but was first revealed in 1980 when a nearby resident complained about the site of a former landfill. The land nearby now holds the Scofieldtown Park and composting and recycling centers. It sits in an area just north of the intersection of Scofieldtown Road and Rock Rimmon Road. According to the city’s map of contaminated areas the pesticides dieldrin and chlordane primarily exist in levels at, or above the action level in private wells east of the area. These pesticides are particularly troubling because they don’t readily breakdown in the environment and as they move up the food chain through animals to humans their concentrations intensify.

Recently, soil contamination has surfaced at the nearby Bartlett Arboretum that may require remediation. A consulting firm discovered arsenic, dieldrin and chlordane in soil samples taken there in April. The testing came about because when the arboretum was building a new education center the soil samples came back with traces of chlordane and DDT; chemicals that were banned before 1980. This facility is south of Scofieldtown Park and shares an interesting connection with it - Poorhouse Brook. One source of Poorhouse Brook flows beneath Scofieldtown Park through a pipe, while the other source flows from the north and collects runoff and stream flows from the former landfill. This brook runs through the arboretum property.
Poorhouse Brook also runs parallel to Hannahs Road where chlordane and dieldrin have been found in wells at concentrations warranting action. This is also an area where aggressive sampling has occurred. In fact, if you look at the areas where samples have been taken and analyzed you see those areas form a U-shape on the east, south and west sides of Scofieldtown Park and the old landfill site.

The desire by the city to help homeowners’ pay the costs of water testing seems founded on logical reasons. The more samples that are taken and analyzed the better chance the city has to discover how and where the contamination is spreading. However, one of the city representatives is against it for fear of establishing a precedent whereby the city may then have to pay for tests for radon or other contaminants. A homeowners association is also against the plan because it will cause people who have city water to pay for testing other residents’ well water. The city recently completed an expansion of the public water system to include the Hannahs and Very Merry Roads areas where wells had high levels of pesticides.


beverlymm said...

I greatly appreciate your blog. Keep up the good work bringing us the latest information of the raping of our planet. We certainly don't see it on our mainstream news media.

Anonymous said...

Thx Beverly. Sadly, it is important to report the goings on....