Contaminated water still a mystery

April 6, 2009 2:26:48 PM PDT
Almost a year after some Bucks County homeowners found out their water wells were polluted with industrial chemicals, the state is still looking for the source of that pollution. Some people living in the area known as Cross Keys are getting fed up waiting for answers.

Copywriter Jonathan Jellen, a resident of Cross Keys, is one of a number of homeowners who've been told the water in their wells contains higher-than-allowed amounts of old industrial solvents.

The contamination in homes and businesses near the intersection of Routes 313 and 611 was first discovered last May. Now Jellen uses bottled water for everthing from making ice cubes to cooking.

"I haven't heard a word from the state since they told me it was contaminated," Jellen said. "It's a little frustrating not knowing what's going on. It's your water, it's important to have clean water, so it's frustrating."

Neighbor Pat Gorg's well wasn't contaminated but she's still worried.

"My water's okay, but I have a hard time believing it. I'm nervous, very nervous about it," Gorg said.

The Pennsylvania DEP continues to test the area. Right now, nine homes and 21 businesses have unsafe levels of solvents in their water.

Lynda Rebarchak of the DEP's southeast regional office says investigations like this move slowly. She says scientists are mapping the boudaries of the contamination and continue testing water wells.

"What we've been focusing our attention on right now is to make sure we know what wells in the area have been impacted, and making sure those residents and property owners are on a clean drinking water supply," Rebarchak said.

The state is paying for bottled water and carbon filtration systems while it works to track the source of the pollution, and look at possible solutions like installing a public water system.

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