They can’t drink their water, take a bath or brush their teeth with it. They have had their water tested more than once and every time it is tested it has more dangerous E.coli and bacteria than can be counted. That is right more bugs in their well water than a laboratory can count. Even immediately after the water is chemically treated there is E.coli in their water.
Why does this nightmare continue for the Adams and the Hollifield families and their neighbors? A health department official said during the Marshall County Fiscal Court meeting on Tuesday morning the ground water where they live in the Harvey community of western Marshall County is polluted. They can’t install a new well and solve the problem. One of their neighbors did that not too long ago and had it tested and it is polluted too.
Heather Adams talked to Marshall County Fiscal Court about the situation her and her parents, Jim and Gloria Hollified, have found themselves (Gloria Hollifield is an employee of The Lake News). That morning after heavy rains had fallen their well water was a muddy brown. She took a photo of the water and showed it to the members of the court. Of course they have seen the same thing many times in the past. The water almost always looks the same mud puddle brown and the pleas from the homeowner always fall upon sympathetic ears but there is little that anyone can do.
Commissioner Bob Gold said Tuesday there were an estimated 700 families in Marshall County who do not have safe potable drinking water. He also said the cost estimate to install waterlines and the other necessary equipment to get drinking water to those families was about $10 million.
There isn’t any money available to do any additional extension of water lines. Some funding for expansion of waterlines could become available in the future when Marshall County pays off a note they already have for a water project but how much funding and when it might be available is unknown presently.
But even if money is found in the future for a water project that does not mean a waterline will go to Harvey where the Adams and Hollifields live. It is much more complicated than that. While board members of the rural water districts are selected by the judge executive and approved by the court the water districts operate independently of the court and are funded by selling water to customers. What they can charge for the water is regulated by the state.
Some years ago Kentucky began an aggressive program to provide potable water to every household in the state. Called Water Vision 20-20 the program’s goal was to bring safe drinking water to everyone by the year 2020. They’re not going to make it. When the recession struck state money for the water projects dried up and now there is no money available from the state.
Adams asked the court to fund the testing of every well of the 17 households in her neighborhood for E.coli and pesticides. But many of the wells in the area have been tested before and a representative from Marshall County Health Department Environmental Health Director Juli Conner said tests in the past have shown wells in the area where Adams lives are contaminated. Conner also said the health department does not have the ability to test for pesticides in water.
Adams and her family pay about $200 per month to have drinking water brought into their homes. She worries that her elderly neighbors won’t always be able to haul drinking water.
Judge Kevin Neal said he felt the county needed to be in a position to help with the big water projects. But right now the county doesn’t have any extra money. Judge Neal did ask Adams to meet with him and Conner to see what they could do. Adams agreed to the meeting.