Homeowners, state agency spar over dirty water funding

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(WTNH) — Dennis Chupron is angry at state officials who he believes is putting his family in danger.

“They have good water. Why should they understand,” Chupron said from his couch in his Durham neighborhood.

For years, Chupron has relied on bottled water, unwilling to drink from his tap. Years ago, the state installed tanks in his basement. They were put in because they found trichlorethylene in his well water.

Chupron is one of 238 homeowners across the state who had filtration tanks installed to stop the chemicals from reaching his tap. But in 2012, funding for the program was cut.

For Chupron and others like him, that meant the tanks remained, but the upkeep costs laid on him.

“I don’t drink the water,” said Chupron. “I refuse to drink the water. We use all bottled water. Even for the cat”

The filtration tanks were installed in 42 Connecticut cities and towns. They found chemicals in all of them, but didn’t find a culprit. The program cost was around $200,000 annually to help all of those homeowners.

“For them to say you need this, we’re putting this in your house its required and then have them say, we’re not going to pay for it, it’s definitely a shocker,” said Sandra Rauchenbach from her East Windsor basement.

She also showed us the filtration units that cost $70 a piece. Replacing the tanks, she was given a quote of several hundred dollars.

“Put the program back in. I think we pay enough in taxes to help the families with the drinking water. This is a health issue,” said Rauchenbach.

“We are really very aware that people are very nervous,” said Connecticut Remidiation Director Patrick Bowe. He was the one who made the decision to cut the program. Having the customers pick up the tab, when spread over 12 months is equivalent to paying a monthly city water bill, Bowe said.

That answer is not good enough for some city officials. Since the notices began going out, East Windsor First Selectwoman Denise Menard has been working with state legislators to bring the program back.

“it’s government. It doesn’t happen overnight,” said Menard. “I don’t know that there is a happy solution. They have contaminated wells, so something is going to have to be done.”

The options are to bring the program back or connect them to city water. Bowe said connecting all of these houses to city water would cost an estimated $1 million per mile.

“Everybody in the state of Connecticut should know about this,” said Chupron.

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