(Updated 3:18 p.m.)
The wells of three homes on State Street Road in the Town of Batavia have been contaminated by the deadly bacteria known as e-coli, according to the county's Interim Health Director Randy Garney.
The likely cause of the contamination, according to Garney, was the spreading of manure on nearby farm fields.
The three homes are located between the airport and the Genesee County Emergency Management Office.
Residents contacted the health department Monday complaining about discolored water and a funny smell, Garney said. The water was tested on Tuesday and positive results came back Wednesday.
Resident Joe Pionessa (pictured), who has lived on State Street for 22 years, said his water tested positive for bacteria, but no e-coli, though he believed neighbors on both sides of him did have e-coli in their well water.
He said it wasn't a big deal. He doesn't drink water ("I know what fish do in it," he said), and he thinks his water has already cleaned up quite a bit (he dumped chlorine in it after noticing the funny smell on Thursday).
He doesn't want negative publicity for the farmer, whom he said he's known for years and he believes was following state guidelines.
"Stuff like this happens and he certainly didn't do anything maliciously," Pionessa said. "He was very apologetic. Shit happens, and this time it happened here."
Somebody, he said, possibly the farmer, left three cases of bottled water yesterday on Pionessa's front steps.
Letters have been sent to 44 of the surrounding home owners in both Batavia and Elba warning them of the potential contamination and asking them to contact the health department to have their water tested if they suspect any contamination.
The test is free.
Emergency Management Coordinator Tim Yaeger said test results of the well water at the county building came back negative this afternoon. Not that it mattered much, Yaeger said, since personnel there have drank bottled water since the day the facility opened.
Because the wells were contaminated from a ground water source, it's probable that the residents will never again be able to use the wells for potable water.
Town of Batavia Supervisor Greg Post said the Town has already started the process of helping the residents determine if they want to create a water district and hook their homes into the public water system.
This sort of contamination is a common issue in the Town of Batavia, according to Post.
"We anticipate that this will be an issue until every household in the community is on public water," Post said. "The only solution to this is to ensure that well water is no longer the primary source of water because all well water is at risk."
While the town doesn't supply water, they do have resources available to help with getting the engineering done, the cost analysis and setting up the process of putting homes on public water
"There is a process and we’re certainly already mobilized," Post said.
There was a similar problem on Ellicott Street Road two years ago, where a farmer was "guilty of farming" -- spreading manure in accordance with state regulations -- and more than 100 homes were effected by e-coli contamination. The town was able to help expedite the process of getting the homes on public water.