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Clean water a hurdle for some

September 05, 2005

Portions of Washington County have high numbers of contaminated wells, but growth hasn't played much of a part in that, an official says.

Nor have new homes in rural areas led to groundwater levels dropping, said Ted Gordon, the Washington County Health Department's director of environmental health.

But the Health Department still encourages well users to hook up to public water systems when available.

Gordon said most well contamination, which typically includes bacteria, including fecal bacteria, is a result of poor maintenance of the wells by property owners.

The county's terrain, which is prone to sinkholes, caverns, cracks and crevices, also adds to the contamination, he said.

Any pathogens in the water might pass from sinkholes and cracks to wells, thus contaminating drinking water, the Health Department said in June 2005, shortly after informing the Washington County Commissioners of contaminated wells just outside Boonsboro off Old National Pike (Alternate U.S. 40).

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The Town of Boonsboro plans to extend its water line to hook up about 90 homes and businesses in that area, Gordon said.

Washington County is extending public water service in the Pen Mar area to about 60 homes currently using wells and cisterns.

County officials have said the $2.58 million extension would provide those residents with safe, clean water.

- Tara Reilly

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