Suwannee Residents Say Water is Still Unsafe

People living near the illegal dumpsite are growing very frustrated, because there hasn't been any change in their situation in several years.

The state says the water is fine; residents say it isn't, and they're demanding the state to come in and clean up the mess. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection says an illegal dumpsite in northern Suwannee County is not harming this tap water.

Nearby residents say they have proof the water is dangerous.

"They did a bacterial study and found that I have 196 bacteria that have been identified in my water and I've been advised not to use my water," says Reta Butler.

Several dozen of Reta's neighbors have also been given that advise. Back in January, the Florida Department of Health issued this letter, which said, "Do not drink or cook with your water." But the warnings didn't stop there, just last month another letter was sent out saying, "You may want to stop drinking your water."

And while the Department of Health sees a possible risk, the Department of Environmental Protection gives this water a passing grade.

"To date, all we have seen there is no contamination of any ground water or drinking water standards," Jill Johnson says.

Residents say so many people living around the dumpsite are getting sick, and the only solution is for d-e-p to clean up the area so pollutants don't have a chance to get into the water.

"We wanted it cleaned up yesterday, last year or when it happened. We want it cleaned, we want to live normal lives like everybody else," says resident Richard Gross.

"We were promised it would be removed, it has not been removed its still there, the solution is simple, move it," Reta says.

But officials with DEP say that until they find a serious threat in the water, the dump will remain in place.

"We'll wait until the contamination assessment is complete and then work with the citizens as we have been doing in the past to see where we can go in the future," says Jill Johnson.

Residents say that almost every one of the 35 plus families living in this area are dealing with some kind of health problem and they feel it’s all related to contaminated water.
Right now, most residents say they'll stay in the area even though their properties are pretty much worthless until the water situation is cleared up.