Residents in North Carolina recently marked their 1,000th day without access to clean drinking water in their homes.
The Charlotte-area residents live near a Duke Energy operation, which has been blamed for contamination of local wells, according to The Charlotte Observer. Though the company denies that it is responsible for the contamination, state officials told residents not to drink their water in early 2015. Since then, they have been relying on bottled supplies.
“Now more than 500 neighbors of Duke power plants on Lake Norman, Lake Wylie and in Rowan County are waiting for Duke to finish installing miles of water lines, ordered by state legislators, that will connect them to municipal systems,” per the Observer. “Legislators in 2016 ordered the water lines, or installation of filtration systems in some cases, to be completed near Duke power plants statewide by Oct. 15. Until then, many Charlotte-area residents will continue to drink, cook and bathe in the bottled water that Duke gives them.”
The contaminant in question is hexavalent chromium, a potential carcinogen that was traced back to Duke’s ash ponds and the groundwater around them. Residents that relied on the groundwater through private wells are now waiting to be connected to the municipal system.
A class-action lawsuit was filed against Duke Energy and the company claims that this is contributing to the slow action to provide locals with clean water.
“Unfortunately, it appears that attorneys are encouraging some well owners to delay the process,” said Erin Culbert, a Duke spokesperson, per the Observer. “In other cases, neighbors simply haven’t replied or taken the steps needed. This stalls the very solutions these neighbors have been advocating so hard for and delays completion for their community.”
With only 16 of the 99 necessary property easements needed to install water lines granted so far, it may be another 1,000 days or more until residents are connected to a centralized water system.
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Image credit: "Belmont, North Carolina," kitto1975 © 2015, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/