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HIGH SPRINGS/ALACHUA COUNTY – The water well serving the Alachua County Transfer Station and Alachua County Fire/Rescue Station #20, which provides advanced life transport, has become contaminated.

“County personnel are currently using bottled water for drinking and whatever cooking they might do on the premises,” said Bill Northcutt, Alachua County Fire Chief.

Sampling on the well located on the solid waste parcel began at the end of July last year according to testing documents and continued into August. The Alachua County Health Department routinely tests for bacteria, lead and nitrates. After finding Total Coliform Bacteria (TCB) in the well and at the distribution points, the county “shocked” the well with chlorine several times. While shocking the well helped, it did not resolve the problem permanently,” said Anthony Dennis, Alachua County Health Department's Environmental Health Director. The last test was done on August 11, 2015 and TCBs were present at that time. “No further testing has been done since that time,” said Dennis. “TCBs are non pathogenic bacteria found in older wells and wells that aren't used very often. It is not carcinogenic,” he said, “and testing determined an absence of fecal or E. coli contamination.”

The City of High Springs has a water line serving a church on the opposite side of the road and talks have occurred between Alachua County Manager Lee Niblock, Northcutt, High Springs City Manager Ed Booth and additional city staff, which could lead to High Springs running a water line under U.S. Highway 441 to service the two county facilities.

Northcutt and Booth are doing additional research to find out if this is the best solution.

“We've looked at the Comprehensive Plan and an adjustment would have to be made to it,” said Northcutt. “We are also researching options on filtration systems to determine costs and viability. We are doing our due diligence before we bring any option before the Board of County Commissioners for their determination.

“The City is nice enough to pursue the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for permission to do the project,” Northcutt said.

“The County's cap on costs would be $40,000 and the City and County would share the engineering costs and provide a fire hydrant,” said Booth.

If the County approves this option and the City receives FDOT's approval, Booth said he thinks the project could go out for bid and begin in approximately 60 days.

“This extension of our service would help the City with its economic development goals as well as help the County resolve their problem,” said Booth.

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