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Wells drying up in Jacksontown

JACKSONTOWN- Jacksontown’s water table is sinking and residents are very worried.

“We’ve been in droughts before, but there’s no way everybody’s wells are going to dry up at once,” said Jacksontown homeowner Jim Douglass. He said he’s had to lower his water pump 20 feet since Licking County installed a $4 million EPA mandated sewer system. The deadline to connect to the system was May 1.

“Draining a whole town of water is pretty big news,” Douglass said. “I don’t know how much longer we can go. We’re on the brink of disaster.”

Douglass said his neighbor has been without his well for a significant period of time and some other Jacksontown residents are being forced to drill new wells.

Ohio EPA ordered Licking County Commissioners roughly nine years ago to build a wastewater collection system to serve about 125 residents and businesses in the Jacksontown area. The order was issued after Ohio EPA determined that failing septic systems were polluting a stream and drainage ditches. The collection system would connect to an existing line near the Lakewood Schools complex to be conveyed to the Buckeye Lake wastewater treatment plant.

Douglass wonders if the town’s water table issues are a direct result of that project.

Resident Rex Adkins said he awoke Thanksgiving to discover he had no water pressure and was forced to drill a new well. “After some checking I have discovered at least seven other homes in the small town of Jacksontown need wells re-drilled and there may be other homes in and around us,” he said. “I spoke to someone who said there is obviously something going on in our area with the wells this year, because a lot of people in the area are having water and well problems lately.”

Adkins said it’s interesting these incidents occurred after two things recently took place in Jacksontown – the excavation and installation of new sewer lines and underground explosive testing for natural gas. “The explosive testing shook my home a couple times,” he said.

“It’s going to be expensive for someone,” Douglass said. He said he hopes the county would take responsibility for repairing residents’ wells if the sewer system is found to be at fault for lowering the water table. Douglass said if he has to lower his well any more, say to 160 feet, he’ll have to install a heavier duty pump, which requires a 220 outlet. “We’re talking thousands of dollars,” Douglass said. “You have to have water.”

Douglass suspects the new sewer system’s construction may have been rushed under the EPA mandate and improper planning may have led to the water table draining away from Jacksontown. He said people constructing new homes on Licking Trails Road discovered artisan wells on their property. “I think that’s our water,” Douglass said.

“I have been contacted by a couple residents regarding low or no water in their shallow wells – 50 feet or less in depth,” said Licking County Water and Wastewater Director Kevin Eby. “The (county) commissioners are aware of this and we have concerns.”

Eby said he’s not able to address any effect seismic testing for natural gas deposits may be having on water wells.

“We have inquired with GPD Consulting (the sewer project engineer) and are looking into this,” Eby said. “I have also brought this to the Ohio EPA’s attention.” He said the region has experienced a very dry summer and autumn, to which Jacksontown’s shallow wells are very susceptible.

“If it is determined that the project has affected any shallow wells then the county will provide an adequate well or make it right with the resident,” Eby said. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Eby said currently there is no time line as to when the situation may be resolved. “I hope to have some type of answer by the end of this week or first of next,” he said Tuesday. “This could be a complicated issue. With the lack rain and the sewer installation it may be hard to determine the exact cause.”

Douglass wants all Jacksontown residents to be aware of the issue. “Unless people have pulled their pumps, they don’t know it’s happening,” he said.

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