Lenox homeowners sick of contaminated tap water - want line to clean water supply

The first thing you notice when Ruth Yates turns on her faucet is the strong smell of sulfur. But hidden inside this clear water is a dangerous bacteria called Coliform.

"It's an inconvenience," said Yates who lives on Carter Road in the Town of Lenox. "You cannot drink our water. It rusts things. You can't cook with it, it's bad to bathe in. I've had to go to doctors."

Yates even has to brush her teeth with bottled water. NY Senator Charles Schumer is now getting involved, pushing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to hook up rural areas to the town water system.

The town says at least seven wells are contaminated. Yate's neighbors on Carter Road are dealing with the same costly problem. They not only have to keep buying bottles of water but the dirty well water running through their home, does a lot of damage.

Al Menendez points out the rust on his in-laws washing machine. "We need healthy water. We have a new baby, and my in-laws have a water cooler system, because you could never use that water for the baby," said Menendez.

Coliform bacteria is commonly found in animal waste and can contaminate water through a homeowners well.

For the last few years, the town has been working on plans to build a ten mile water line, which would bring clean water to rural parts of Madison County. Hundreds depend on well water and are not hooked up to the town water system. Homeowners with wells tell us they have to deal with increased levels of iron and sulfur. And about a dozen are also dealing with the coliform contamination.

The waterline project is expensive, and it's been hard to meet the $3.6 million price tag.

Town leaders are now hoping for a chance at federal money to get the project, and the water, flowing.

"The people have been very patient," said Town Supervisor Rocco DiVeronica, who says Senator Charles Schumer is now getting involved. "Senator Schumer is really trying to help us get this going. By fall, we hope to get this project out of the ground."

Schumer will be in Madison County Monday morning to help push this project forward. Schumer says it will also help create jobs in the county.