Sullivan County

Seneker Lane residents asking for city water, say well water is making them sick

Water tested positive for bacteria, contamination

Contaminated Wells

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Residents on Seneker Lane in Sullivan County claim their well water is making them sick.

"Do not drink that water. Don't brush your teeth with that water. Only use it to take a shower," said Dean Millard's doctor. He went to the physician after he started having stomach problems years ago.

So Millard and other residents on the street, including Wayne Jewell, use bottled water for pretty much everything. "We only use the well water to shower. We cook with the bottled water," said Jewell. "I'd like to have good, clean water coming into my house to brush my teeth with."

According to the Bristol, Tennessee Public Works Department, five of seven homes recently tested on Seneker Lane tested positive for contamination. "It has E. coli and bacteria in it," explained Millard.

But Bill Sorah, the Bristol deputy city manager for public works, said they can't afford to extend 6,800 feet of pipes between Highway 11W and Island Road to the residents in the area.

"It's really aggravating that they won't help us," Millard said.

According to Sorah, running municipal water to the area would cost about $500,000. With only about 25 homes in the area, that would break down to about $20,000 per home.

That's a price tag he said is too much for the city. "That's a project that's not considered economically feasible," he said.

"Aren't our families and children worth that much?" asked Millard.

Sorah said Sullivan County has applied for grants over the past decade to cover the cost, but they were rejected. "We're certainly going to continue to pursue funding for the project but it's unknown if or when funds may be available," he said.

Sullivan County Mayor Steve Godsey said he's working to find the funds to help the residents. "These are people in desperate need. This is the most inhumane situation I've ever seen," he said.

Godsey is trying to work with Congressman Phil Roe and Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey to find a solution to the well water woes.

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