/Larsen Community Water update

Larsen Community Water update

larson(Source: Loriboyer.org) I am delighted to report that bill 2014-385 passed City Council unanimously! The bill, of which I was a sponsor, appropriated 413,000 from previous Water and Sewer Expansion Authority fund balance and authorized the City to enter into an agreement with Builder’s Care to complete water line installation throughout the Larsen neighborhood. In my preparation for debate in committees, I was doing a little research on the sources of contamination in the area. Three significant City sites surround Larsen- the former Stetson Road Landfill to the west, the Jacksonville Waste Control Site on McArthur to the north and the former Southside Incinerator site to the south. Southside Incinerator is one of the ash sites which the City is under an environmental order to clean-up. I came across this quote from former Mayor Delaney that appeared in the Times Union in 1999: “I don’t want to come across a place where people are drinking water from a well next to a landfill and we didn’t get to it until 2015.” Unfortunately, it is almost 2015. Recent well tests by the Department of Health revealed one additional well that failed clean drinking water standards, in this case for benzene, and that property was referred to the Department of Environmental Protection. DEP assists with extending the water line or drilling a new well in such a case. Other wells revealed positive tests for contaminants, but not high enough for DEP to remediate. Finally, we learned of a number of additional residents who were sharing water because a number of wells had dried up or their casings had failed. The Department of Health does not comment on wells drawing sand or other indications of failed casings. But, I learned some time ago that these failed wells present opportunities for fecal coliform bacterial contamination from adjacent septic drain fields as well as opportunities for surface chemical contaminants to enter the water supply. The Health Department does not routinely test for bacterial contamination in the case of failed wells. As now positioned, the total project cost to the City for the line extensions is the $413,000 appropriated in this bill. The original JEA estimate was almost 1.2 million and the Community Development Block Grant requested $782,036. The combination of donated labor and materials from Builder’s Care and the advantage of negotiated pricing for materials has saved the City almost $700,000. I am certainly most appreciative of the generosity of Greg Matovina and Builder’s Care for making this project possible. Teresa Eichner from the Mayor’s Office has been a strong supporter for the project and has worked to locate funding for this match. Pat Bridgeman from the Larsen Neighborhood Association has been a true champion for her neighborhood and has worked for years to make this project happen. Finally, Southside Baptist Church has been a great partner and advocate on behalf of the neighborhood. Church members have assisted with outreach to residents, gathering permission to conduct well tests and assisting with UTIP grant applications. My heartfelt appreciation goes out to all of you. At last, Larsen will have access to clean water!