Leacock Township deals with contaminated water

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Residents in Leacock Township, Lancaster County have gotten used to having their water tested, because the groundwater is contaminated with a toxic chemical.

In 2004, the Department of Environmental Protection discovered parts of the area had dangerous levels of trichloroethylene in the well water.

It’s used as a solvent to de-grease metal. The CDC says in high levels, it can cause liver and kidney damage and other health issues.

“A responsible party wasn’t determined because the contamination was so widespread,” says Lisa Kasianowitz of the DEP.

David Fisher’s is one of several homes with a filtering treatment system installed by the DEP in the basement because of the high levels detected there. Other homes receive bottled water regularly from the DEP.

“They come around every three months, check the water and change filters,” he says. “They told me it was OK to drink it. That doesn’t mean I drink it.”

Now, the DEP is giving Leacock Township a $350,000 grant from the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund. The money will go towards the construction of a public water system.

Some residents, whose well water isn’t affected by the chemical, say they aren’t happy about the change. But the DEP says the chemical isn’t going away and could contaminate other wells in the future.

“Will it cost a little more to do public water? Possibly,” says Frank Howe, chairman of the Leacock Township Board of Supervisors. “But it’ll be safe. Which it isn’t now.”

Construction on the public water system will start in January 2015.