Contaminated Drinking Water In Valley, Nebraska

VALLEY, NEBRASKA (kptm) - Toxic drinking water, that's what people living in a neighborhood in Valley, Nebraska are dealing with right now. About a month ago, all the homeowners received a notice informing them that a poisonous chemical was detected in the water. Nearly everyone in the community has bought new filtration systems but now they want to know how much longer they have to wait until it's fixed. The homeowners living in The Pines neighborhood share the same water supply. Officials tested that water and found a chemical typically used for degreasing metal parts in the auto industry. Homeowners said they're frustrated."This is a real serious problem."Officials said the water in The Pines neighborhood is contaminated. Trichloroethylene or TCE was found in the water supply nearly a month ago and officials said the water is still unsafe to drink. Billie Gepford says she's frustrated. "Think about us and where we're coming from and try to fix it as soon as you can, you know, I think we deserve better."According to the Safe Drinking Water Act, any drinking water with more than 5 micrograms of TCE per liter is hazardous. Officials found 10.1 micrograms of TCE per liter in The Pines water supply. The State of Nebraska Toxicologist said high levels of TCE can increase a person's risk of cancer in the liver, kidneys, and lungs. Animals exposed to the chemical can also have an increased risk in heart problems.Amber Cherny owns a neighborhood bar. She said customers are nervous to order water. "I don't think it's as harmful as they say, but of course I'm not the expert either."After getting the notice, she installed a filtration system at her bar, making even the dishwater clean. "It was just having to explain to people that we do have these systems on, our water is safe, you know, it was very frustrating."Gepford said she just hopes a solution is found quickly. "I hope whenever they resolve this problem, they do it good, 100 percent, and it's not a flubbed up job."Officials said the Department of Environment Quality and the EPA are tracking the source of the contamination. Once officials determine where it's coming from, they say they'll contact the homeowners.The state said private wells in the area may also be contaminated. Officials said they do not monitor those and it's up to the well owner to test for TCE. If TCE is present in your private well, there are things you can do to reduce your exposure. "If TCE is present in your private well, there are things you can do to reduce your exposure. Drink bottled/filtered water (reverse osmosis or granular activated carbon). Cook and make ice with filtered water. Limit showering/bathing time to approximately 15 minutes, with water temperature as cool as possible. Run a bath fan or open a window while showering/bathing to increase the fresh air exchange."If you would like further information or have questions, please contact State of Nebraska Toxicologist, Sue Dempsey at 402-471-8880 or via e-mail at