District agrees to retest neighbor’s well water
PHOENIXVILLE Phoenixville Area School District officials have agreed to retest the well water at a residence after the homeowner claims it’s been contaminated by a nearby district construction project.
Neighbors said the installation of a geothermal heating system at the new elementary school construction site has contaminated the well water coming into their home and may have given them pneumonia. The district denies any wrongdoing, citing documents that show it tested the water and found it safe to drink. It believes the problem isn’t coming from the site, but likely from the neighbors’ well itself, according to district officials.
Speaking on behalf of her parents, William and Marian Menkins, Lynn Lindsay stood before the Phoenixville Area School Board Thursday night to demand a meeting with the district and complain about the installation of a geothermal heating system at the site of incoming Phoenixville Area Early Learning Center and Manavon Elementary School. She said because of the drilling required to install the system, the water at her parents’ 103 Hallowell Ave. residence has turned brown and the bacteria in the water has made them sick.
“You can’t drink it,” Lindsay said. “You can’t bathe in it. You can’t wash your clothes in it.”
The family believes the contaminated water is what led to 88-year-old William’s nearly 10day stay in the hospital for bacterial pneumonia this past July. William has an artificial heart valve and doctors told him he must not be exposed to any more bacteria or drink any more of the water or
it could kill him. Marian became infected with the disease five days after her husband, Lindsay said.
The family claims to have made several phone calls to
the district since June, specifically to Stan Johnson, executive director of operations, about this water issue, but their calls weren’t returned, according to Lindsay.
After a Right-to-Know request was filed Thursday by Digital First Media, the district said it has searched its email records along with
phone records dating back to Aug. 26 but could not find any calls coming from the Menkins’ number. However, Johnson said the district wasn’t ready to give a final response to the request just yet and would continue to search its records to make sure.
When the Menkins spoke
to the district’s engineer, Anthony Cutrufello, about the issue, the district sent someone to test the well water, Lindsay said.
“The ironic thing was that when we got the test results back, instead of 103 Hallowell Ave., it was from 111 Hallowell Ave.,” she said. “So we’re still waiting for 103
Marian said she and her husband and the Rossi family at 111 Hallowell Ave. are the only houses that share the well water line.
Meanwhile, Lindsay said she’s already begun the process of determining what kind of filtration system needs to be installed to resolve the issue.
“It has to be taken care of,” she said. “It can’t go on any longer.”
The district said Thursday it would look into the situation and school board member Joshua Gould requested an update on the situation at the next building and grounds committee meeting.
District officials met with Lindsay and Marian Monday afternoon. The district denied their claims, citing documents which show they tested the water and results show it is safe to drink. The problem, they said, may be the Menkins’ well. The two sides then agreed to re-test the water. Testing was performed on Tuesday and results were expected to take about 10 days to come back.
A Right-to-Know request showed documents dating from Oct. 28, 2015 to March 17, 2016 supporting the district’s claim that it had taken necessary steps to make sure the construction project would minimally affect the surrounding neighbors. In addition, documents from July 18 to Aug. 2, 2016 show the district tested the Menkins’ water. Results from that test show the water was acceptable to drink and recommended the family contact their well installer.
Documents ranging from June 23 to July 17, 2016 also show the Rossi family, who live at 111 Hallowell Ave., notified the district that they were having issues with their water, specifically that it smelled like diesel fuel. The water was tested twice by ALS Environmental and the Chester County Health Department which concluded the results were in normal range.
The Rossi family told Digital First Media it was unable to definitively blame their water issues on the district, despite having their water tested three times, including once by a company they hired. They have since installed a water filtration system and cleaned their water tanks, which seems to have resolved the issue.
As for the Menkins, they said they are waiting on the results of the second water test before making their next move.
Phoenixville Superintendent Alan Fegley said the district has agreed to test the Menkins’ water once again, just to be sure.
“We are looking to retest the water to understand the situation,” he said. “The water tests that we have show that there was no bacteria in the water at all. But we will check it again.”