Contaminated groundwater causing concern for some Haysville residents

Water faucet (Media General photo)

WICHITA, Kan.(KSNW) – The Kansas Department of Health held a public session to inform some Haysville residents of groundwater contamination Tuesday night.

It came from the former American Cleaners. The area affected stretches from Grand Avenue down to 85th Street South.  About 240 properties are susceptible to the contaminated water.

KSN spent Tuesday speaking to residents about their concerns. Already, KDHE has come to talk to residents about the concerns, but Tuesday, the conversation shifted to what they plan on doing about it.

“Those properties get their water from a groundwater well, they’re not provided water by the city of Haysville,” said Tony Martinez, Haysville Public Works Director. “That’s why we were talking about the capability of the city extending our water utility down south to these properties.”

The host of the contamination is near 79th and Grand Avenue and the old dry cleaning business.

“It all started up there at that old dry cleaning spot,” said Devon Cox, Haysville resident. “We just got the water notification about three months ago, and it’s been going on for several years.  We can’t obviously take a shower in bottled water because it costs too much, and it has the horrible smell and taste. You have no idea what it’s doing when it runs over your body in the shower.”

This was a shared concern for another resident who lives in the affected area.

“I have two little girls, and if it wasn’t for bottled water, I don’t know exactly what my kids are getting when they’re drinking that water,” said Michelle Sutherland, Haysville resident. “She’s two. When she takes a bath, she puts the bath water in her mouth. So what exactly is she putting into her body.”

These are concerns that Martinez says he understands.

“We have been working on this,” said Martinez. “With that risk, KDHE and anybody that’s a public servant; we want to do anything and everything we can to take that equation out of people lives.”

So far, over 200 residents have been notified of the issue. Martinez says he is still waiting on 100 of those notifications to come back with permission to fix the problem.

“We are working to fix this, but people have to check their mail and get back to us with the permission to work on their home,” he said. “Right now, we’re doing pressure testing on this water main that is already in the ground. The next step after it passes the pressure test is it gets disinfected, and then, we send off for bacteriological sampling. Once all those tests are passed, it’s put in service, then what KDHE does is start installing water lines from the meters to the house.”

KDHE will be paying for the process and has already completely changed the water installation in one home.

“We’ve had this project in the motion for a while,” said Bob Jurgens, KDHE. “We are spending just about $6 million to rectify the issue.”

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