DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Neighbors living in a Durham County neighborhood face a major setback in their battle to secure a city water supply.
Back in May, CBS 17 told you about how several homes are without a safe water supply.
Ever since their wells failed during the holidays last year, multiple families on Junction Road have been sharing water or living with a contaminated supply.
That’s the case for Valerie Hayes. She said she’s been to the doctor because her water gives her rashes.
“This right here was just solid black water every day,” Hayes said while showing photos of her samples. “Every day I woke up, solid black water.”
In May, Durham County provided a chrome tanker truck to supply water to several of the Junction Road homes. Last week, it was taken away.
Elmo Yancey owns two homes on the road and says three wells are currently supplying 10 houses. He’s now asking the city if he can purchase a temporary water line so he can help his renters and others in the neighborhood.
“They’re not taking baths in it,” Yancey said. “They’re not drinking it and they’re buying water or going to neighbors’ houses to take a shower.”
A local civil engineer was enlisted to help solve the problem. He said the goal is to get a permanent city water line for the people who live there, but they’d have to pay for it. The city said that’s an option.
“I got word from the water management department, it was closer to $600,000,” Durham civil engineer Cliff Credle said. “And the officials I’ve talked to with the city said that’s [a] no. They’re not paying for that.”
CBS 17 reached out to the county to find out when the neighbors will see a solution, but did not get a response.
Meanwhile, the city also said those impacted would have to petition for annexation, which would give them the ability to get a water line.
“From Water Management’s perspective there are two options for the property owners to have City water extended to them: They can petition for annexation into the City of Durham and then petition the City to extend water service to these properties,” SR Public Information & Communications Analyst Joe Lunne said via email. “The property owners would be assessed for the improvements when construction was complete. They can petition the City for annexation and extend the water line at their cost. They would have to hire an engineering firm to design and permit the extension and hire a utility contractor for installation.”
It’s an issue this community hopes will soon be resolved.
“If you get right here, you can like smell it,” Hayes said while running her kitchen faucet. “You can smell. Everything comes up.”
Susanna Strasser started receiving her water from a nearby fire hydrant when her well failed on Junction Road. But Durham city water management shut off the connection. The department had also said it’s against city ordinance to apply hydrant meters for domestic use.
“I try to use the smallest amount I can because I don’t want to hurt all those people too,” Strasser said. “It’s kids.”
Lludiz Velazquez conserves the supply by saving rainwater in buckets. She said her failed well started spewing out dirt.
“When my daughter started taking a shower, she said after the shower ‘oh mommy, it’s itchy,’” Velazquez said. “And her skin gets very dry and then her head starts itching too.
Credle carried out private testing on the broken wells and said multiple were contaminated or didn’t produce enough water to be tested. Credle said the county’s testing yielded the same results.
“Before the development, all these wells were in working order,” he said.
“We have a big development coming in our left; one in the right and they have water,” Strasser said. “It’s a few houses in between that we don’t have water. How come? I want an answer for it.”
Multiple homes on Junction Road already pay a sewer tax to the city. Yancey said he’s spent over $6,000 trying to find solutions.