Concern grows over contaminated groundwater in West Wichita

WICHITA, Kansas – When people first heard about the contamination of well water in some areas of west Wichita, the response was a reasonable one: concern, for their health and for their property. Now, residents nearby are hoping to get the ball rolling on a switch over to city water as well, even though contamination hasn’t spread to them.

“There are two neighborhoods that are adjacent to the plume area also that are largely unserved by city water supply,” said Ben Nelson with Wichita Public Works. “And a lot of those areas have gone through what’s known as the petition process.”

“Everyone I’ve talked to it in our district is worried about it,” said Darold Yates. “Because like I said we’re only 180 feet from the contamination.”

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has been monitoring the situation as they’ve hooked more than a hundred homes up to city water lines and, so far, the news is good.

“Our focus is really on connecting people to clean and safe drinking water and going forward we haven’t seen the plume move at all,” said Sara Belfry. “So we’re pretty happy and pretty satisfied that this is where the plume is and will remain.”

While KDHE and the city are footing the bill for the water change in the affected areas, for the nearby residents, it’s a completely different situation — they’ll cover the entire cost through special assessment fees, but for some residents, they say they’d rather pay the price now, rather than paying for it more later.

“If our wells become contaminated, our property essentially is worthless until we do something about the water situation,” said Yates.

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