‘It’s not normal’: Rockingham County neighbors having problems with well water

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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — At least nine days without running water for some neighbors in one local neighborhood. That means no showers and no bathrooms working in homes.  

Water from the aquifer stopped filling up individual wells in Rockingham County.  It’s a trickledown effect caused by a lack of trickling water  

“We had called a well person that the well was dropping. That does not happen. It’s not normal,” said Kelly Johnson, whose well ran out of water. “It’s very strange what has happened to this well. It does not happen in nature,” she said. 

Johnson and her family rely on their backyard well to wash dishes, take showers and flush toilets.  

“Thursday evening, I had no water,” Johnson said.  

That was May 20.  

While some neighbors’ water supply briefly came back Monday evening, it’s back off again marking the 10th day since issues started.  

“No laundry. No showers. Nno dishwashers,” Johnson said. 

They’ve been using shower bags just to stay clean. Her neighbors are having the same problem.  

“We gathered a lot of bottled water. I’ve got a good enough neighbor next to me who still has a well. I’ve been able to get water from him,” said James Rittchie, who also had no running water. 

Water he needs to feed their farm animals and dogs. The Ritchie’s quiet backyard oasis is now being utilized as an outhouse.  

“It’s probably the most unnerving feeling I’ve ever had,” Rittchie said.  

The mystery of why it happened is also unnerving.  

“Somewhere, someone knows exactly what is happening here, and they’re not saying,” Johnson said. 

“I’ve been doing this for 44 years, and I’ve never seen that before, so it’s very strange,” said well inspector David Brown, of Yadkin Well Company. 

He was asked by the Rittchie family to independently assess the well problem. Brown said he does not know what could be causing the issue for the five families without well water in the neighborhood.  

The only immediate solution is replacing the well or drilling deeper for water. Both are expensive.  

“You’re probably going to be averaging around $5,000 to re-drill,” Brown said.

The Rittchie family decided to buy a larger pump and have it placed deeper in the current well after days without water. They said they spent close to $3,400.   

Because the address of the neighborhood is P.O. boxed to Summerfield, the families impacted reached out to Summerfield town officials and Rockingham County officials for help with repairs.  

After they got nowhere, FOX8 called town and county leaders and learned these are not municipal wells, so the responsibility is on the homeowners.  

Officials said one option they have is changing over to county water.  

Rockingham county officials said they are willing to work with the Environmental Health Department to speed up the permit process if these families want new wells  

If you are having a problem with your well in Rockingham County, you’re asked to call the director of Rockingham Public Utilities at (336) 342-8104. 

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