Every time the Rev. Jerry Price wants water, he has to get it from the bottle. Price's well and the wells of at least 19 of his neighbors are contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals.
"This is a situation that we did not ask for. None of us contaminated our wells," Price said.
State water experts are looking for the source of the contamination. For weeks, they have provided the homeowners with free bottled water, but on Tuesday, homeowners were told that the free water ends next week. The state canceled the free water because it is funded through a program that helps people whose wells are contaminated by leaking underground storage tanks. State tests show the neighborhood doesn't have any buried tanks.
However, after the homeowners complained and WRAL questioned the situation, state officials decided to find a way to continue the free water.
"I talked with the division director of waste management this morning and we are going to be pursuing other options -- looking at federal funds, potential other programs in the state and working with the local government," said Don Reuter, of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Officials have also agreed to work with homeowners on a permanent solution -- city water, but for the contaminated well owners to get it, all of the homeowners have to agree to pay about $7,000 each unless the state can come up with an alternative.
If the state finds out who is responsible for contaminating the wells, officials say that person would be forced to pay for the city water hook-ups.