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Newly drilled well leaves several Lower Towamensing residents with unsanitary water

Published October 14. 2009 05:00PM

Lower Towamensing Township officials have been taken to task after a well drilled last month behind a nearby vacant lot has left several residents with unsanitary water.

Resident Jean Keck told the township's board of supervisors on Tuesday that she has lived at her home at 3410 Little Gap Road since 1966, and been a resident since 1930.

Keck told supervisors one day she heard a "tremendous amount of noise," only to discover that a well was in the process of being drilled. She said she felt "tremors," and that "everything shook."

Keck, who brought along samples of her drinking water which she showed to the board, said she has three parts per 100 milliliters of coliform bacteria present in her drinking water.

She said she's since spoken with the state Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the Bureau of Water Quality Management.

"They told me the water is not recommended for drinking," Keck said. "They said the only real course of action is to put in an ultraviolet light into the line, and that is $1,000 for that system."

As a result, Keck told supervisors she's had to travel to the West End Fitness Club to shower, had to buy her own drinking water, and had to go to the laundromat to do her wash.

"My next door neighbor has tried to contact the township supervisors," she said. "I'm sort of at a loss; I thought that you were here as public officials to serve the people, and I don't feel you are doing that."

Further, Keck said no one contacted any of the parties involved, which has left those affected by the situation to "feel we're hanging on a limb here."

Supervisors Chairman Ron Walbert told Keck he spoke with township zoning officer Duane Dellecker about the situation.

Township solicitor Jim Nanovic said the township currently doesn't have any such ordinance in place, and, therefore, has no jurisdiction over the matter.

Supervisor Glen Hahn told Keck he understood her concerns.

"I wouldn't want to drink that water either," Hahn said.

Walbert told Keck supervisors would revisit the matter with Dellecker.

"We can talk to Mr. Dellecker again, and see that all the T's are crossed," Walbert said. "I'll contact Mr. Dellecker and have a written report."

Resident Harold Latshaw, who lives next to Keck at 3390 Little Gap Road, also voiced his displeasure over the situation.

"They tell us not to drink it (the water) and if you have medical conditions, do not bathe," Latshaw said. "That was a rotary drill, and the vibration was that bad that it shook the homes."

Latshaw said someone is at fault, and he and his neighbors shouldn't have to be the ones to shoulder the burden.

"We did not create this problem," he said. "I've lived here since 1987, no bad water."

Also on Tuesday, supervisors were taken to task by a resident who expressed anger that his son was fired from the township's maintenance department.

Resident Herman Bollinger asked Walbert if he was responsible for firing his son, David Bollinger.

Walbert told Herman Bollinger his son was "relieved of his duties."

"Your son was relieved of his duties because he didn't show up for work," Walbert said. "The board of supervisors fired your son."

Herman Bollinger then directed his frustration toward Hahn.

"You better get things straightened out here, because somebody might be in big trouble," he said.

In an unrelated matter, supervisors discussed whether or not to pursue a violation notice against resident Earl Paules.

Nanovic said Paules, who resides at 285 Hawk Farm Road, Kunkletown, received an enforcement notice from Dellecker dated July 15 after he brought a trailer onto his property without getting a permit to do so.

Paules then asked for a permit, but was rejected by the township's zoning hearing board, Nanovic said. Paules has yet to remove the trailer, he said.

Hahn suggested that the supervisors and Nanovic arrange to meet with Paules to hash out their differences.

Also, Hahn mentioned that the tot lot playground has been constructed at the Stoney Ridge Park along Fireline Road, and urged residents to visit it.

"I would appreciate it if you would go out and look at it," Hahn said.

Walbert concurred with Hahn's praise of the tot lot.

"It is very professional," Walbert said. "It was very well done, all by volunteers."

As the end of the meeting approached, Walbert attempted to iron things out.

"I appreciate you folks coming to the meetings, but one thing I would like is for all the facts to be straight," Walbert said. "We're trying to change the culture, and do what's best for everybody."

In other business, supervisors:

• Granted conditional approval on a 2-1 vote, with Supervisor Gerry Madden opposed, to the Jeff Bartholomew land development plan.

• Tabled discussion on a proposal for a computer program that would keep a record for garbage collection. Walbert said the proposal from S&O would cost $1,450.

• Announced Trick-or-Treat night will be held in the township from 6-8 p.m. Oct. 28.

• Rejected giving donations to the Salvation Army, Palmerton Community Ambulance Association, and American Cancer Society.

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