June 29, 2005 – Posted at 5:33 p.m. CDT
CARDWELL, MO -- With all the dry weather Region 8 has seen lately, you would think the word water would stir up some positive attention. But not in one southeast Missouri town. Water is such a hot topic in Cardwell, it has folks divided.
“We need our water supply fixed, we need the contamination that's here taken away or cleared up and everything straightened up,” said Greg McGrew, a former city alderman.
Some folks believe a St. Louis based company that housed a petroleum bulk plant in Cardwell for 50 years may have contaminated water pipes on Pool Street. Department of Natural Resource officials are checking the site for contamination, but McGrew says there are still several other sights in the city that need to be tested.
“The old water lines are letting contaminates and bad things in which is not healthy,” said McGrew. Daryl Hopper and his wife lived on Pool Street for three years.
“Our kids have gotten sick, my wife has gotten sick, my mother-in-law has been sick, I’ve been sick. When we moved away, the sickness went away,” said Hopper.
“I think it's the water,” said Sherry Hopper.
Mayor David Bishop says the problem started with the firm that laid the water pipes in 1998. But he says the town has a plan to reroute the water pipe in question.
“There's nothing wrong with the water and there isn’t never going to be,” said Mayor Bishop.
But it's an issue that has the town taking sides.
“I do not believe it is safe,” said McGrew, “If you review the proposed water system improvements of 1997, one of the main reasons for this was to make the water supply safe for the citizens of Cardwell.”
“We've got a lot of retards in this town...don't drink the water. They say, 'don't drink the water,' I've drank it all my life, everybody else has,” said resident Mary Pierce Baker, “I don’t think there is a thing wrong with the water, no one else has gotten sick here from it. I don’t think there is a thing wrong with it.”
“I really feel bad for the people living over here in this area, because I know what we've had to go through and what they are having to go through,” said Sherry Hopper.
“There is nothing wrong with this water, I bathe in it, I drink it, there is nothing wrong with this water,” said the mayor’s wife, Linda Bishop, “It’s just other people who want to stir up trouble.”
While officials from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources say the town doesn't have enough chlorine in their water supply, the Environmental Protection Agency is investigating the site for evidence of contamination.
“I would like to see someone here from the Missouri Department of Health to take assessment,” said McGrew.
“We’re going to get to the bottom of this, I lived in this town for 43 years and I’ve drunk this water,” said Mayor Bishop “It just takes time, we hope we can everything settled in the next couple of months.”
Test results from the site are expected back from the EPA in 30 days.