Correction ( March 22 11:41 p.m.): Due to an editing error in this editorial, the editorial board incorrectly states that more than a quarter of the wells were malfunctioning. A quarter of the septic tanks were malfunctioning. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
Efforts to provide the Rogers Road community with clean water need to be redoubled by Orange County and the town of Chapel Hill.
A recent report released by the Orange County Health Department revealed that nine of 11 wells in the Rogers Road neighborhood are contaminated and do not meet standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Three wells that were tested contained fecal or total coliform in the water. This bacteria could cause health problems such as stomach cramps and vomiting.
Four wells had excess iron, while one had excess manganese and another contained excess lead.
More than a quarter of the wells were malfunctioning, which means the sewage was leaking on the ground or backing up into the plumbing system.
In 1972, the town of Chapel Hill placed a solid waste landfill close to the historically low-income, black community. As a result, the neighborhood has suffered from the landfill’s negative externalities, which include contaminated wells, rats, vultures, illegal dumping and a lingering foul odor.
The Rogers Road community does not have access to the town’s municipal services, as the neighborhood is not within the town boundary.
Orange County is expected to work on finding the funds necessary to provide the community with public water and fix its septic tanks.
Every day, the overall health of the Rogers Road residents continues to be at risk due to the contamination.
The county needs to make sure that a remedy is completed in a timely manner and with a sense of urgency that has been inexcusably lacking for years.
And the town of Chapel Hill should support the county’s efforts, as its landfill created many of these problems.
With access to clean public water, the Rogers Road community can begin to recover after years of neglect. The town and county need to make sure that this becomes a reality.
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