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Pa. water woes continue

December 23, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

QUINCY, Pa. -- For two years, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been providing bottled water to 12 homes in Quincy Township, but the pending connection to a public water source promises to rid those families of a carcinogenic chemical found in their well water.

A DEP spokeswoman said connecting to public water carries an estimated price tag of $2.9 million, a cost that will be shouldered by the state agency's hazardous sites cleanup program.

"The specific water source has not been determined," Lauri Lebo said.

The state has entered into early discussions with the Washington Township (Pa.) Municipal Authority, which manages waterlines in the neighboring municipality. Quincy Township Supervisor Bob Gunder predicted that more than a half-mile of pipe will be required to make the connection.

"The only thing we don't know is cost as far as to the individual property owner for a monthly bill," Gunder said.

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The DEP tentatively plans to hold a public hearing in April regarding the connection. Residents -- including those from a total of 26 definitively affected households -- will be able to learn more there about what DEP has done since finding trichloroethylene (TCE) during testing in October 2006.

Joe Skoskie is tired of waiting for the next step in the process.

"The water is still exactly the same. Nothing has changed," said Skoskie, whose well water tests at 10 parts per billion for TCE. That's double the amount considered acceptable for the public drinking standard.

TCE can cause a number of health problems when ingested, inhaled or contacted by skin. Of the 26 houses found to have TCE contamination in Quincy Township, a dozen had concentrations high enough to warrant regular bottled water delivery.

A delivery truck arrives at Skoskie's Shank Hess Road home once a month, bringing four cases with six gallon jugs in each. He also installed a treatment system that costs him $720 per year for upkeep.

Skoskie, who is staunchly in favor of connecting to public water, said he feels frustrated when he reads newspaper stories about grant money launching other projects, such as those for sidewalks and sewer systems elsewhere.

"It seems like nobody's doing anything," he said. "Work on grants and get the money here."

The source of TCE has not been found in Quincy Township, Lebo said.

"Even a gallon of TCE could contaminate a water table," she said.

"They still need to flush this out of the ground," Skoskie said.

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