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Neighbors not told about arsenic in well water?

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Neighbors not told about arsenic in well water?

By Matt Grant. CREATED Apr 29, 2013

PUNTA GORDA - A southwest Florida man is worried his well water will kill him after officials found it to be poisonous.

Three months after the state discovered arsenic in John Scoles well water, neighbor Sharon Rote is just now finding out - from Fox 4.

"Did you know there was an arsenic problem in this neighborhood?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.

"No," said Rote.

"So you found out from us?," asked Grant.

"Yes," said Rote. "This is shocking. Very shocking."

 Shocking because Charlotte County health officials told Fox 4 on Friday it was their job to give residents a heads up.

"We have a responsibility to notify everyone," said Karl Henry with the Charlotte County Health Department, "where we are aware of contamination."

But they didn't and neither did state officials leaving neighbors like Ryan Rowe in the dark.

"How come I'm finding out from a neighbor and not from the state?," asked Rowe.

John Scoles says the water is making him sick.

"It's not right to have to live like this," said Scoles.

Officials found a dangerously high level of arsenic in his well water back in January. He's been living at his Edmund Street home since 1981.

"Been bathing in it, cooking with it, drinking it, washing our clothes with it," said Scoles. "For the past 30 years."

Scoles has developed intestinal problems which he says led to him losing 50 lbs. Medical records call it "abnormal." He fears the poisoned water will kill him.

"I hope they can cure the problem Matt...because I really want to live longer," said Scoles.

"You feel this is cutting your life short?," asked Grant.

"Yes I do," said Scoles.

Scoles now cooks with and drinks bottled water. He says health officials told him to limit his showers to three minutes. A bandage marks where he gave blood to be tested for arsenic and lead.

He put a sign in his front yard warning neighbors about the arsenic problem. One neighbor, Howard Meanne, says a county official just gave him a heads up Monday morning when he tested the water.

"He told me don't drink the water it has arsenic and lead in it," said Meanne.

"Do you think you should have known sooner?," asked Grant.

"Yes," said Meanne. "We all should have. We have to bathe in this."

Last week, Fox 4 asked Charlotte County health officials why the warning didn't go out sooner.

"I don't know that we have that particular kind of funding at the moment," said Henry, "to inform everyone about the contamination."

The state department of health doubled down on that Monday telling Fox 4 there are "limited funds" to do testing so they are relying on representative samples.

Nobody seems to know where the arsenic came from .

State health officials say they have tested 35 wells so far.

State Department of Health statement

"There are limited funds to do the testing so we rely on a representative sampling to try to define an area of concern.  When a high result is found, we typically try to get permission to test wells on adjacent properties.  DOH will look for people who are home on these adjacent properties especially those adjacent properties that are 'downstream' as the groundwater flows from the property with the high result.  Since there are only a few wells with high results in this area, the DOH has not contacted all properties owners but is taking a methodical approach to making contact to ask for permission to test wells as resources allow."
 
Matt Grant
mgrant@fox4now.com
 
Twitter: @MattGrantFox4