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Elkhart County leaders hope to make city water available to homes with hazardous well water

ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. -

The Elkhart County Redevelopment Commission has been studying the water in the Prairie Creek Run neighborhood. On Monday, they presented their findings to the City Council, with hopes they will be willing to offer city water to residents who live in unincorporated areas of the city.

Water tests determined septic system waste has been seeping into the well water.

Rex Sutterby, who lives on Lilac Street, says his tap water has been contaminated for around twenty years.

“You’ll smell it in a minute. It smells like sewer, it tastes like it too. Do I want clean water? Yeah. Can I afford it? No,” says Sutterby.

The area is surrounded by the city of Elkhart but is considered Osolo Township, so homeowners don’t pay high city taxes. According to city policy, that means they don’t qualify for city water even if they’re willing to pay the bill.

The Elkhart County Redevelopment Commission is hoping the council will agree to change their policy so the homes can be connected to existing water mains.

President Elkhart County Redevelopment Commission, James Skillen, says fixing the issues on Lilac Street is critical. A grant fund has been secured through the Osolo Township Trustee and the County’s Storm Water Board to cover the costs for the eight homes willing to switch to city water. Skillen says, that’s just the beginning of their work.

Step two is offering city water to the 86 homes surrounding Lilac Street. While the contamination is not as severe in those areas, Skillen says it’s important to get ahead of the issue.

Ultimately, Skillen is hoping around 400 homes will qualify for city water without annexation.

 “There’s been a tremendous amount of sewer and water at other people’s expense that the city then annexes and then gets those taxes, so, in some way there is a partnership there,” says Skillen.

The council says they will be discussing the issue more before making a decision.

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