The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday December 2nd

County takes steps to fix Rogers-Eubanks water problems

Residents say land?ll has tainted water

Household drinking water sources
Buy Photos Household drinking water sources

Many residents in the historically black and low-income community bordering the county landfill don’t receive drinking water from county water lines. Soon they might receive help with well repair.

The Orange County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday night considering healthy water options for the residents who live within 3,000 feet of the Orange County landfill, which is located in the Rogers-Eubanks neighborhood.

The goal of the resolution is to initiate the process of improving the water supply and to eventually give the plan some formality, County Manager Frank Clifton said Tuesday.

He said the commission’s resolution suggests three options to improve drinkisng conditions that include repairing and replacing wells and extending the water supply to residents who do not receive public water.

But county-funded well repair won’t solve the whole problem — residents want public water lines.

The Rev. Robert Campbell, a resident of the Rogers Road community, said he knows a resident who paid $6,000 for a well system due to a lack of water supply.

“I also know one resident who dug four wells,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be reasonable to extend the water line to the houses that aren’t connected?”

Campbell said the county should consider measuring the distances from where the water lines stop to the houses that do not reach.

Campbell also said many wells residents install do not provide drinkable water. He said the water in the community does not meet Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Some wells are located near faulty septic tanks, which may threaten water quality in the neighborhood, Clifton said.

It has been difficult for county health department officials to determine how drinkable the neighborhood water is.

Orange County Health Director Rosemary Summers said officials cannot pinpoint which houses need assistance.

“We tested very few wells out there because the residents have not participated in the survey,” Summers said.

The health department is still in the process of gathering data and analysis for drinkable water in the county, Summers said.

Commissioner Barry Jacobs suggested other improvement options for the community, which is located just north of Chapel Hill.

He suggested pumping septic tanks or requiring residents to connect to Orange Water and Sewer Authority water lines.

Private well protection could be an interim solution aimed for residences as well, Jacobs said.

One of the three options will be selected after the town of Chapel Hill reviews the resolution and offers feedback.

Clifton said he thinks the town will accept the resolution.

The commissioners did not offer a time frame for well or water supply repair.

Summers said a report on county EPA water quality will be released within a year.

Contact the City Editor at citydesk@unc.edu.

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