Asphalt, Not Oil, the Cause of Leander Family’s Water Contamination

Posted in: United States Water News, Water Contamination
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CHARLOTTE INGRAM (Photo Credit: hillcountrynews)

Article courtesy of ASHLEY SAVA | July 30, 2015 | Hill Country News | Shared as educational material

Two months ago, Charlotte and Greg Ingram thought they struck oil on their property, and were left with a contaminated water supply. After weeks waiting for someone to step in, the family is finally going to have clean water this week.

“We haven’t had clean water in so long,” Charlotte said. “They are digging us a new well now.”

However, the family received surprising news on Monday, by Rimkus Consulting Group, Inc., who informed the Ingrams that the substance that contaminated their water supply wasn’t oil at all, but rather, asphalt.

“They said the consistency was more in line of asphalt rather than crude,” Charlotte said. “They said that at this point, the incident does not appear to be of a natural occurrence, and this refined product would indicate some sort of interference had taken place.”

The Ingrams are already out $25,000 for the well, and about $10,000 to replace their ruined appliances. The family’s insurance doesn’t cover toxic and hazardous materials.

According to Charlotte, there are five asphalt companies within a three-mile radius from her residence.

“With everything we’ve gone through, and all the money we’re out, it just makes me mad,” she said.

Before they received this news, Bee Cave Drilling was already working to help the Ingrams dig a new well. They stepped in on July 18, after hearing the Ingrams story. At that point, the family had already lived with contaminated water for more than six weeks.

“The epicenter of oil in water in Central Texas is that area between Leander and Liberty Hill,” Jim Blair, Bee Cave Drilling’s president said.

The company has faced similar cases to the Ingrams hundreds of times

“We are going above and beyond here,” Charlotte said. “They are sealing the outside of the casing with cement.”

Initially, the Ingram family believed the process of getting back their water would be a quick one. However, Bee Cave Drilling ran into a few problems, setting back the completion date.

“It’s still good,” Charlotte said. “We’re much further than we were and we trust this company 100 percent. They aren’t charging us anything on top of what we’re paying now.”

Charlotte said that Bee Cave Drilling told her that there is a 99 percent guarantee that even the thickest of oil wouldn’t get in the new well. However, this formula might change now that they found out they aren’t working with crude oil.

The Ingrams first just noticed a greasy residue in their bathtub. Since the family gets its water from a private well, she thought maybe dirt had come up through the pipes because of recent rainfall. They discovered the problem was much worse than they expected when they asked their 16-year-old son to open up their water tank.

“We noticed (the water) was almost kind of sludgy looking at that time,” she said during the Hill Country News’ first interview with her.

Kieran J. Purcell, National Environmental Division Manager of the Rimkus Consulting Group said the next step is to determine the potential sources of the contamination.

“I am currently further investigating whether the source is internal to the water system components or if the offsite potential concerning the asphalt release from road construction impacting yours and neighboring well,” Purcell said in an email to the Ingram family.

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