KDHE Monitoring contaminated water

Water (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kansas — As state health officials figure out how to clean up groundwater contaminated with a dry cleaning chemical, Wichitans who live just beyond the polluted area are wondering if they’re safe.

The water contamination in that area has been in the ground for as long as two decades so KDHE officials monitoring the situation say they have a good idea where the pollution is going at this point.

“Our east and west boundaries are probably fairly set, what we don’t know is how much further to the south it’s going to go,” said Bob Jurgens with the KDHE.

Saundra Martin lives in this southwest Wichita neighborhood just a few miles south of the affected area.

She initially assumed her home was too far from the PCE contamination but she’s considering getting the well water tested to be sure.

“It certainly could be, yes, good thing to maybe think about,” Martin said.

Water will flow in a path based on the geology. In this case, the water is flowing from south to southeast.

“Once we get that under control once we get the city working on putting in water mains and all that then we’ll start looking at what we need to do to control this or maintain it,” Jurgens said.

Monitoring wells are the next step to ensure the pollution is being contained, but those won’t likely be installed until later this year.

The KDHE says the clean up and how to prevent the pollution plume from spreading could come down to a money issue. The KDHE estimates the cost for this initial part of the project could top $1 million dollars. That’s a significant amount of money when you consider the funding for these projects is shared by more than 140 contaminated sites across the state.

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