For well pump owners in Gainesville, water quality is a must. Contaminants can cause long-lasting health problems, which can stem from fertilizer runoff, industrial use, rusted pipes, and more. If you have not heard of the Cabot/Koppers Superfund site or recently tested your well for impurities, it may be time to call a professional to test your water.
Although Superfund sites sound super fun, they are the complete opposite. When an area of land becomes contaminated by hazardous waste and is a threat to human and environmental health, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), declares it as a Superfund site. This denotation is reserved for America’s most contaminated and hazardous waste sites, which are then placed on the National Priorities List. The remediation process typically takes decades to complete due to the extensive damage.
In 1983, the EPA declared the Cabot/Koppers land as a Superfund site. Cabot Carbon and Koppers were two companies responsible for contaminating over 140 acres of land due to improper waste disposal. Cabot Carbon produced charcoal, turpentine, and other pine-derived products until 1967. Koppers was a wood treating facility that operated from 1916 to 2010.
Tests showed that chemicals, such as benzene and phenol, from wood tars and oil posed a potential health risk. Both companies stored their waste in unlined lagoons, allowing contaminants to seep into the surrounding soil and groundwater. As a result, the EPA is holding them accountable for paying reparation damages, as extensive work is conducted to clean up the area.
Gainesville’s Cabot/Koppers Superfund site was placed on the toxic superfund list in 1983 and affects a mix of commercial, residential, and undeveloped properties. Because the site is only two miles from Gainesville’s water supply wellfield, residents were concerned that the contaminants would leach into the groundwater and affect their drinking water. To ensure the health of Gainesville’s residents, groundwater is pumped out of the Florida aquifer and chemically treated to destroy any contamination.
Although the EPA expects all remedial actions to occur by late 2020, groundwater monitoring and treatment must continue long after because it is still not certain how deep the contamination goes.
While previous monitoring efforts determined that contamination was present in the Florida aquifer, groundwater is constantly being treated to eliminate harmful toxins. When the Alachua County Health Department tested private drinking wells by the Cabot/Koppers Superfund site, they determined that the water met Florida water standards.
Despite the city’s confidence in the water quality, scientists are still not certain how deep the contamination reached and whether it will become a long-term problem. In 2015, the federal government required the Cabot Corporation to drill deeper to determine the extent of groundwater contamination. Because of these concerns, it is important to regularly test your well water to ensure you and your family are drinking safe water.
When it comes to you and your family’s health, you can never be too safe. Contaminants such as harmful bacteria, viruses, and other microbes can be nearly impossible to detect without professional testing. Chemical contaminants can create long-term health problems that may not appear for several months. Frequent well water testing will help create data points to determine any changes and identify contamination. If you live in Gainesville, and especially if you live near this Superfund site, contact us today to test your well pump for any impurities!