EPA adds site in Valley to National Priorities List

Published: Jul. 31, 2017 at 10:06 PM CDT
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The EPA is taking a big step to get to the bottom of a water contamination concern in Valley. Recent testing shows running water in the city is safe to drink. The site is at the northwest city limits of Valley at Old Highway 275 and North 288th Street. The EPA will add the Nebraska site to the Superfund National Priorities List for its contaminated groundwater.

"Something like that is always concerning,” said Mayor Carroll Smith.

Smith says it was first discovered back in 2000 that unhealthy levels of tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene contaminated the drinking water in the Pines neighborhood. Those residents had been using a private well system. The chemicals are byproducts of household cleaning products or de-greasing agents.

They were also found in three other private wells. Tests show there are higher levels of the chemicals in the surrounding soil.

"Whoever caused this cost these folks a lot of money,” Smith said.

All those residents who were using private contaminated wells are now hooked up to city water. They now pay Valley about $650 a year. The contaminated Pines well was capped off.

"How they're going to figure out who did it? I don't know,” said previous co-owner of the private well, Don Dravland.

There are industrial businesses and a railroad track just yards from the well, but so far there's not enough evidence to point fingers. Mayor Smith says they hope to find out who is responsible.

"I pray that they do. I pray that they do,” he said.

If the EPA can figure out who is to blame, residents could get their money back.

“I couldn't be happier to hear that,” said Dravland. “In fact, I can't wait to share that - what you're telling me with some of my neighbors.”

The EPA hopes to find the source of that contamination. The state's Department of Environmental Quality has worked for years to research the cause of the contamination. In order to make sure it doesn't spread the city and the state requested the EPA step in.