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Oak Ridge residents getting long-awaited solution to water problems

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OAK RIDGE, N.C. -- Several wells in Oak Ridge have been contaminated with gasoline, dating back more than 20 years, but a permanent solution is in the works.

According to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the contamination came from a gas station that used to be located at the corner of Linville Road and Oak Ridge Road. That gas station is long gone, but the damage remains.

The wells used to serve eleven homes, until the state ordered everyone affected to stop using their water in the early 1990s. They provided bottled water to the residents until they arranged for a new well to be dug, away from the contamination.

That well served the homes for many years, until some people died and families with children moved in. The increased consumption eventually caused the well to go dry. Some residents would be out of water for several days at a time.

The state started providing bottled water again, and a couple of years ago, contracted with a water supplier to have a water tanker park at the site of the well. The water now runs from the tanker to the eleven homes.

It's not a cheap solution for the state -- costing taxpayers around $27,000 a month. To date, the state has paid around $450,000 for the water.

When the owners of the gas station filed for bankruptcy, that left the state to pick up the tab.

The City of Greensboro, for a variety of reasons, will not extend water lines to the area.

But a permanent fix is on the horizon. The Town of Oak Ridge and the state have agreed to let Aqua America, a private water utility, provide water to the area. Aqua America already has a water system in place at a neighborhood not too far from the homes. They are planning on extending their water lines to the affected homes.

But there are several steps to go through first. There are many permitting and approval processes to go through, but the residents and DENR are all eager for this to happen as quickly as possible.

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