Lab results reveal E-coli in residents' private well water

Lab results reveal E-coli in residents' private well water

MARION TWP., Pa. - Lab results reveal that the contaminated well water reported in Stouchsburg contains E. coli and other dangerous bacteria.

"It's just not safe," said Emily Krick, who had a sample of her bathroom sink water tested.

The test - conducted by Pure Test Water Laboratory in Myerstown, Lebanon Co. - found significant amounts of E-coli and total coliform in the sample. Both bacteria are normally the result of human or animal waste contamination, according to the lab results.

"Just makes you feel uneasy. Worried." said Krick, mother of a newborn and disabled child. "You know, you try to protect your kids and your family and you don't want anybody getting sick or hospitalized."

Since Sunday, Krick said her water has been cloudy, yellow and discolored. She reported the problem to the township on Monday, along with five other neighboring homes on Main Street.

In response, township officials issued warnings about the water, provided a freshwater buffalo for outdoor use, and contacted several environmental agencies.

As of Wednesday, a cause was still unknown.

Township officials told 69 News that the same problem occurred roughly ten years ago, the result of manure being spread on a nearby farm. As for whether that is the case this time around, however, experts aren't so sure.

"There are just so many different inputs that may have an effect here," said Dan Greig, district executive with the Berks County Conservation District.

While Greig said he wouldn't "rule out" manure as a factor, he said his specialists observed nearby farmland on Tuesday, and couldn't find any traces of illegal farming practices. While spreading manure during the winter season is illegal in some states, that isn't the case in Pennsylvania, with certain exceptions.

"Manure was spread… [but] it was conducted in an environmentally sensitive way as required for the state for winter spreading," said Greig.

He said other potential causes include septic problems, but more testing is needed to make that determination and work toward a solution.

On Wednesday, a specialist with the Department of Environmental Protection was on-scene investigating. Spokesperson Lisa Kasianowitz said three wells were sampled and submitted to the DEP's laboratory, with results expected next week.

Meantime, locals are looking forward to finding answers, and having their water systems return to normal.

"Just [would] like the water to clear up so we can go back to a normal life instead of worrying about all the bacteria that we found has been in the water now," said Krick.

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