Antrim residents seek cause of sediment in well

The tap water at a home on Randy Drive comes out in many shades. Some days it is clear, other days tan or even red. Lynn Wilkinson wonders if the sudden change in her water quality is related to the Norfolk Southern construction project less than two miles away. The company began building its intermodal facility last July, which entails dynamiting, and the Wilkinsons’ water problems started in September.

Lynn Wilkinson hopes her water problems are caused by Norfolk Southern. Then when construction of the intermodal terminal is completed, she can get back to clear water coming into her Randy Drive home from their well. Wilkinson and her husband Robert have lived in their house for 34 years, and never had a problem until last fall.

The rail company began dynamiting in July and in September the trouble began. The couple lives a mile and a half from the construction site. Three days after the heavy rains Wilkinson's water came out of the tap cloudy. Clay sediment settled in containers and the sink. A plumber found nothing amiss and the water cleared. Just to be safe, they replaced the pump, which was set at 170 feet in the 230-foot well. Particles in the water continued to come and go without a pattern.

In March it got significantly dark again. Rain had fallen on a Thursday. At 3 p.m. Sunday Wilkinson washed dishes and all was fine. At 4 p.m. the water was red. The couple added lining at the top of the chute after it had been examined with a camera. The well company spotted many veins leading into the shaft. With $2,000 put into a solution, the problem is not yet solved.

None of the neighbors had an issue with water quality. Local well servicing companies had not received similar calls. Yet everyone asked if there had been any ground disturbance of late. That's when Wilkinson thought about NS.

"I think it has to do with them," she said. "We'll wait until they stop. If our water clears, there is a correlation. And then I'll be concerned about the chemicals they're transporting. Will there be dangers to the water supply?"

Antrim Township administrator Brad Graham said he has received no calls related to water problems. Some residents have registered minor complaints about NS, such as the coordination of road closings, dirt on Hykes Road when the bridge was under construction, and general comments on the blasting.

Norfolk Southern manager of public relations Dave Pidgeon said he and his staff were unaware of any particular problems.

“She is more than welcome to contact me,” he said from his Harrisburg office. Another outlet was the NS claims department at 1-800-230-7049.

 Wilkinson is puzzled. "Our well is 30 feet from our neighbors. It's a mystery why no one else has had trouble."