Residents speak in favor of well water testing ordinance

welltestingABOVE: Health Department Lab Technician Jason Glenn collects a water sample from a home on Lolly Lane

STAMFORD — About a half dozen residents voiced support Thursday for a proposal that would add arsenic and uranium testing to the city’s private well water testing service.

The naturally occurring metals were recently found in groundwater across Connecticut, prompting the state Department of Public Health to issue a health advisory recommending all private well owners test their drinking water for arsenic and uranium.

Stamford already offers a subsidized well water testing service for pesticides and volatile organic compounds. The proposed ordinance would replace VOCs with arsenic and uranium.

The Board of Representatives Water Supply Committee held a public hearing on the proposed ordinance Thursday night. Stamford resident Rose McInerney spoke in support of the switch.

“I think the more we continue to learn about this and advocate — but also the city stepping in front and leading the way — is favorable,” McInerney said.

Stamford resident Bob Boucher said the testing helps raise homeowners’ awareness about water contamination.

“Nobody’s pushing the issue because water’s water,” Boucher said. “The people in North Stamford, we deserve to have a little bit more for what we pay in taxes. Because we pay the most and get the least in services.”

Stamford’s Board of Representatives passed an ordinance in September 2011 requiring the health department to provide pesticide and volatile organic compound testing to at least 750 private residences per year. Homeowners are charged a flat $100 fee and the program costs the city about $60,000 annually.

Karen DeFalco, president of the North Stamford Concerned Citizens for the Environment, said the city has come along way since pesticide contamination was first discovered in North Stamford drinking water four years ago, but needs to continue investigating the problem.

“Now we’re finally getting to the point where we’re having a dialogue,” DeFalco said. “Our goal is to educate everyone about public or private water supplies. I’m looking to see a positive change that puts human health as the top priority.”

The Water Supply committee unanimously voted to approve the proposed ordinance. The legislation will now go before the full Board of Representatives Monday for final approval.

The health department coordinated testing for 985 wells across more than 260 Stamford streets since launching its well water testing service in March 2012, finding the long-banned pesticides chlordane and dieldrin in about 13 percent. Five percent of all wells tested contained pesticides in amounts exceeding recommended health limits.