Authorities concerned about contamination spread

WICHITA, Kan. — 114 homes in west Wichita aren’t on city water and for a little more than $1.1 million, the city is working to hook them onto the line so they can stop consuming contaminated water. But now the big concern is that it may spread to the west, specifically to 330 homes also not on city water which could carry a price tag of $2.75 million.

The areas are being monitored with underground wells installed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to see where the contamination is located.

Right now the groundwater contamination is contained within the area that KDHE has said it’s in but it’s not long term contained in that area,” said Ben Nelson with Wichita Public Works. “It could move one direction or another.”

While much of the concern has been for the 114 homes that have been getting contaminated water, now it’s a waiting game to see what happens once the wells are taken out and residents put on city water. That has prompted the city to try to put plans in place to also put homes in two nearby neighborhoods also onto city water lines.

KDHE website and map of affected area

“Right now our immediate priority is getting service hooked up for folks who we know are in contaminated areas,” said Nelson, “But a really important priority for us as well are the 330 homes that sit in two neighborhoods that are next to the contaminated area.”

Officials from the KDHE are also in a bind on the issue. “I think the people outside the area of concern, we are certainly keeping a close eye on those people,” said Sara Belfry with KDHE, “but at this point in time we really need to focus on those people that don’t have clean and safe drinking water.”

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