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Three residential wells on State Street Road contaminated by e-coli

By Howard B. Owens

(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.

Karen Miconi

Jee, it couldnt be from the liquid cow manure being spread all over Western NY. Very Sore subject for me. The Ecoligical Assult, that is polluting the earth around us HAS TO STOP! There has to be a BETTER WAY.
This waste sits in Lagoons for months fermenting, and growing bacteria. This Toxic Brew, is being not only sprayed on the fields, but into the air we breathe as well. Lets not forget my parents, who were sick for a Year, from the E-Coli that was found, in their otherwise great tasting well water.
I, for one am Fed Up with this practice. Its like spraying the crap from everyones toilet in the city, all over the place. Very Bad! The Health Department and DEC needs to Step Up and Fight this! Hasn't there been enough complaints, and victims, to do something about it?
P.S. The Rotting Cabbage, that was left by the farmers, smells like a dirty diaper too. HAPPY SPRING RIGHT?
P.S.S. Who's paying for all these New Water Lines to be put in?? We have a right to clean water, and if its from are well than so be it. Why should home owners have to pay to have city water, when their wells were fully functional, until this happens.
And finally, who paying for the doctor visits, and medication that has to be administered to kill this Bacteria.
Will they ever, Really, be sure there aren't Parasites living in their intestines, or Brain Worms in their heads, and bodies from the exposure?
Something to think about..

Mar 11, 2010, 5:53pm Permalink
Lorie Cook

This was a big problem on Bennett Heights maybe 7-8 years ago...which is right off State Street...betting the same farm is causing the problem. Sad situation, but there has to be a resolution. Just a matter of who wants to come up with the $.

Mar 11, 2010, 9:44pm Permalink
Dave Olsen

"The wall was too high, as you can see.
No matter how he tried he could not break free.
And the worms ate into his brain."

Pink Floyd; The Wall; "Hey You"

Mar 11, 2010, 9:49pm Permalink
Emily Andrews

I know of a family that lives near Walden Estates and they are having major problems of sewer backage. I am wondering if this is part of this whole problem or a new one? I guess that Walden Estates had a ton of people there today to assess the situation. As of my friend, she is no longer drinking the water and has sewer backage in her bathroom. She lives with her daughters and one of them has kids. Something has to be done here, this is a very dangerous situation for everyone.

Mar 12, 2010, 12:16am Permalink

This reminds me of "what came first.The chicken or the egg"..These farmers are what provide our food, milk and the comforts we're so accustomed to just picking up at the store when needed.I'm almost positive that the water problem has everything to do with the spreading of manure in the near area.I can remember when there were very few homes out In that area,The farmer has always been there and the people decided to build and move In on land that the same said farmers family probably sold them.Fast forward a few decades and now cry about how the actions of these farms are effecting your petty lives.I guess people would rather move all the farms out of the county and rely on Importing foods and dairy forward again and cry some more when you're paying 10 buck a gallon for milk.Lets not push all the jobs and resources out of our way to make life better for just you!!!I get so aggravated at the me only way of thinking.You don't like the water,buy It.You don't like the taxes here,move out.You think you have an answer, Give It.THIS COUNTRY WAS FOUNDED ON THE FARM INDUSTRY..DON'T GIVE THEM A HARD TIME.I don't like the smell of rotting cabbage,,So I chose to live where that won't happen.CHOICE IS ALL UP TO YOU.
So In conclusion..The farmer came first,,sorry to bust your egg>>

Mar 13, 2010, 11:15am Permalink
Karen Miconi

Hate to Bust Up the Chicken Coop but,..No,actually Doug, the landmark home I was raised in, was there first, built in the mid 18oo's, and is still the only house on the road. The farmer I speak of, is in my and alot of other peoples opinion, a slob. My family has owned the house for 50 some years. It was purchased by my parents, just because of its unique history, location and beauty. It is not their fault, that the practice of "LIQUID" cow manure spreading, came into play YEARS LATER. Before this, they had always spread it, fresh from the cow. I believe the law states, that the manure, is to be plowed under within 24 HOURS of spreading.( This is to prevent it from running into streams, and bodies of water. It was also not the practice of farmers, to leave rotting cabbage in the fields.
Spring Creek was teaming with trout, and fisherman for many years, and I can remember the trucks stocking it, and people coming from all over to fish it. Why now is a dead, sewer smelling mess?? In this case, the American Dream came before the Ecoligical Assult on our land. I also know of numerous homeowners in the area, who's property values have plummited. The farmer I speak of, is a MILLIONARE. They can afford to make things better.
I think you should consider all aspects of this problem, and the history of the area, the people who have raised their families, and the effects liquid crap has on the earth, before you bash the homeowner, and their right to clean living.
By the way, This Is Home. The answer is not to move away, but to protect and preserve it. Even the DEC will tell you, it is a BIG PROBLEM. I will continue to complain about it, and if you dont like it, dont read it. I will also continue to buy milk, because like gas, it is a neccessity. My hope is that, all farmers will retire their "HUNNY WAGONS" for "METHANE DIGESTERS" We're not going anywhere...

Mar 14, 2010, 9:50am Permalink
Dale Stein

All regulated farms, those milking 200 cows or more, are required by law to have a means of storing manure. Every gallon produced has to be tracked as to where ,when, how, by whom, and how much was applied to each field. the weather that day, the previous day and the next projected day must be recorded. Only a amount can be applied to a field that a certified nutreint planner has said is allowed to be put on that specific field can be applied there. I do not know the circumstances involved with this insident to know if everything was followed.But as DEC has numerous times said ,if there is a contamination incident they fine everyone involved. The farm that is responsible will be facing possible severe fines which could be devastating to that farm after last years terrible milk price. All of us farmers are terrified of this type of thing happening and never want to have any bad effect on our neighbors. As for digesters, they cost 1.5 million dollars and you still have the manure afterwords to deal wih.
By useing manure to grow our crops we reduce useing man made fertilizer by %90 on our farm saving over $150,000 per year, useing manure increases the carbon stored in the ground, reducing energy used to haul in man made fertilizer andreducing green house gases overall. Manure is Mother Natures fertilzer. used correctly it is a huge benefit for the environment

Mar 14, 2010, 8:34am Permalink
Jason Lord

Since the farmers are not making any money any ways because of the milk prices, they should just sell everything and quit farming. Then there will be no manure to worry about. Then China can start supplying the United States with all their junk, melamine tainted powdered milk and other tainted food products, then when people are dying of that it wont be that big of deal. And i suppose the vegetable farmers should harvest all the crops and whatever they don't use i suppose they should take it to a landfill somewhere so that it isn't stinking up the countryside. Then when the landfills start getting full they start popping up on the outsides of the cities and towns and then everybody can complain about the smell from that.


P.S.S. Try some of that Chinese tainted powdered milk, you wont be supporting our local dairy farmers!

Mar 20, 2010, 9:13pm Permalink

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