In July 2012, a pipeline running through Washington County ruptured, allowing thousands of gallons of gasoline to seep into wells. Soon, residents will be able to connect to a nearby village system.
The company that owns the pipeline, West Shore Pipe Line, installed filtration systems on private wells. For other residents, it has regularly been delivering bottled water.
Ross Bishop’s home was in the drinking water advisory area and had a filtration system installed on his well. His water is testing clean and Bishop says he feels safe drinking it and using it to water his cattle. But at a second house he owns and rents out, there’s too much benzene in the water, despite the filtration. The home is closer to the spill site. Bishop says his tenants must still use bottled water the company provides.
“You’ve got somebody coming every two weeks to bring you water, and you got to open up bottles just to fill your glass with water, and then you’ve got to cook with this bottle, and then you’ve got all these plastic bottles to deal with,” Bishop says.
Bishop has been trying to sell his second house, but says no one’s been interested.
“So that house is kind of like held hostage because of a gas spill,” Bishop says.
Bishop’s fortunes could improve, after workers hook up the rental house to municipal water. The pipeline company is paying for connections to the supply in the adjacent Village of Jackson.
The DNR will require residents with high concentrations of benzene in their water to switch to the municipal supply. Those such as Bishop, whose wells test clean, have the option. He worries the cattle he raises wouldn’t like the piped-in water.
“The cattle come up to the water and they smell this chlorination, and they only will drink when they’re really thirsty, so it really hurts their daily (weight) gain,” Bishop says.
Bishop says when cattle don’t gain enough weight, they’re worth less, at market.
He has a few weeks to decide what to do. If he says "no" to the municipal water, but later changes his mind, then he’ll have to pay the cost of installing the lateral to his home.
Bishop is among Town of Jackson residents suing the pipeline company for losses to business and property values.