06/14/07 11:44am

One of the more fascinating EPA Superfund sites in the Houston area is a neighborhood off Jones Road just north of FM1960. Residents who had earlier appreciated how convenient it was to drop off their dry cleaning at nearby Bell Cleaners began to regret that benefit in 2002 when the TCEQ announced that the local drinking water was laced with nasty levels of dry-cleaning solvent tetrachloroethylene, or PCE.

That was bad. But now it’s even worse: These residents will now be prohibited from drilling their own wells to drink the local groundwater!

Coalition members said they recently learned Harris County officials would not allow anymore water wells to be drilled in the Jones Road Superfund site, which covers the Evergreen Woods and Edgewood Estates neighborhoods west of Jones Road and north of FM 1960, and some commercial properties east of Jones Road.

“We understand that Harris County is putting health concerns above everything else, but several residents out here believed they could drill another well into a deeper aquifer if they needed to, and now that is not an option,” said Jones Road Coalition board member Ron O’Farrell.

According to a Houston Chronicle story, only 124 out of approximately 400 neighborhood property owners signed up for a proposed pipeline to bring uncontaminated drinking water into the area. But now, after a Harris County order banning new wells—and the recent discovery of trace elements of vinyl chloride in existing residential wells—some residents are saying they want to re-open the signup period.

Why were they so reluctant to sign up for a supply of nontoxic water in the first place?

Coalition members said there are two primary reasons some residents are concerned about signing the agreement that would allow them to hook up to the water pipeline. One clause in that agreement requires residents to permanently cap their individually owned groundwater wells, and the other gives the state unlimited access to their property during the project and remediation effort.

“I would not mind paying a fee for the tap and paying a plumber, or whomever it takes, on my own to tap in to the pipeline as long as I don’t have to sign the agreement ad give them complete access to my land,” said Donald Haus, and Edgewood Estates resident.