Colonial Park Well Saga Continues

Colonial Park well2

Costs associated with complying with new federal – not state – regulations, plus continued testing, are the reasons behind the closing of wells in Colonial Park, according to a county official.

The costs of complying with federal regulations – the deadline for which is the end of this year – are the real reason why Somerset County is turning off the spigots at public access wells in Colonial Park, according to a county official.

Those costs would be incurred if the county decided to bring the wells in conformity with federal regulations, said Brian Mundhenk, the Somerset County Parks Department’s principal parks engineer. States must abide by those regulations by Dec. 31, 2014, he said.

There has been some degree of confusion over the past several days over why the wells, which have been used for decades by area residents for drinking water, were being closed.

Mundhenk said on Nov. 17 that the reason the wells were being shut was because of new state Department of Environmental Protection regulations. A DEP spokesman disputed that claim, saying on Nov. 19 that the department was notified by the Somerset County Department of Health that the wells were being closed because it had become too costly for upkeep and make upgrades at the wells.

On Nov. 20, Mundhenk said in an email that the regulations were federal, not state, although the state has adopted the federal standard.

He said the county has decided to connect the park to municipal water, “thereby eliminating the costs associated with continued testing of the water.”

The costs would come from having to install a “raw water sampling port,” and other modifications, Mundhenk wrote:

“The wells in colonial park were constructed over 25 years ago and would not meet current well construction standards,” he wrote. “The well heads (top of the well casing) as well as the well pressure tanks are in underground pits. Since these wells are classified as non-community public water systems, they require regular quarterly water sampling. They also require a raw water sampling port.

“The raw water sampling port must be located just after the well but before the underground pressure tank. This would mean that it would need to be located in the pit (but that is not allowed). In short, installation of this raw water tap would require us to bring these wells up to current standards,” he wrote. “This would involve raising the well head above grade (no longer in a pit), installing a pitless adapter as well as removing and finding another location for the pressure tank.”


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