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Vance County's Water Problems Leave Residents With Bad Taste In Their Mouths

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VANCE COUNTY — Remember the inconvenience of not having usable water following Hurricanes Fran and Floyd? For dozens ofVance Countyfamilies, their water woes have gone on for years, and the battle may end up in court.

Construction workers are laying pipe as fast as they can near Highway 39 in Vance County. That is because people, including Sylvia Allyn, want to drink water from their taps for the first time in years.

Last year, engineers determined Allyn's foul-smelling well water contains elevated levels of the carcinogen Benzene, plus other dangerous chemicals. The likely source is the closedHendersoncity landfill.

"It's a serious thing," Allyn said. "I just could not believe that our officials would allow anything like this to happen for such a long period of time."

Up the road, Roy Williams cannot drink his water.

He believes the contamination could be from a variety of sources, since a two-mile stretch of Highway 39 north of Henderson has a wastewater treatment plant, a city landfill, a county landfill and a trash transfer station.

"I mean it's the whole neighborhood," Williams said. "Everybody's got bad water, and everybody is using bottled water around here."

Henderson cannot comment because Sylvia Allyn has sued the city. Vance County, meanwhile, has increased groundwater monitoring at its landfill.

"We want to determine what the situation is," said Jerry Ayscue, Vance County Manager. "We want to determine what the facts are."

But even piping city water to the affected residents has left a bad taste in their mouths. They will have to pay more than $700 for the hookups.

The state has ordered the city of Henderson to determine the full scope of the problem. At the same time, a developer has apparently expressed an interest in acquiring the landfill, possibly for a golf course.


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