Contaminated wells also suppy Byram residents

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:13

    SPARTA-Seneca Lake residents who drink and cook with untested water from private wells are consuming at their own risk, officials say. Public water wells from the Seneca Lake area in March were discovered to have high levels of uranium. Some health studies have determined that consuming such water over a period of years increases the risk of kidney cancer. Sparta officials redirected the water supply within weeks and public water supply customers are now receiving their water from wells outside the lake area. However, residents in that area who draw their water from private wells may still be consuming contaminated water. "I would expect people on private wells in Seneca Lake would get levels similar to what we did when testing for uranium," said Sparta Engineer Charles Ryan last week. "It's hard to tell where the zone of uranium could spread." Of the seven municipal wells registering high levels of uranium, three were located at Green Tree Village in Seneca Lake; two of the wells were located on Douglas Terrace in Byram; one was on Tyler Street in Sparta, and another was on Seneca Lake Road, also in Sparta. Area residents concerned about their water uranium levels may contact the Sparta Health Department to arrange to have their water tested. Ryan said that the Gross Alpha Test, used to determine uranium levels in water, costs approximately $120. He also said that a handful of Seneca Lake residents have already made formal requests to be hooked up to township water. Currently, Sparta officials are asking that people wishing to make similar requests do so in writing and then present it to the township council. Of the 40 wells tested by Sparta Township, the results for 32 have already come back. So far, only seven were found with high traces of uranium, and all were confined to Seneca Lake. "Thus far, this problem has been relatively confined to Seneca Lake," said Ryan. He expects to receive the results of the last eight wells -- none of which are in Seneca Lake -- by the end