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Well tests for Indiana industrial development leave sandy, smelly water

Fight over water comes to a boil

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WISH) — Dozens of people are angry about the state drilling for water near their homes.

The state is looking for water to supply an industrial development. Residents say it has caused their water to smell like rotten eggs and even ruined some home appliances.

The residents want the state to look elsewhere for water.

Earlier this year, several test wells were drilled along the Wabash River just west of Lafayette. The wells found water and stirred up a hornet’s nest of complaints in the process.

Resident Heather Walsh told I-Team 8, “We noticed it when we went to cook dinner one night, and the water coming out of the faucet was red.”

She says the water filter in Walsh’s home is changed a couple times a year, but the filter has never been clogged up as it is now. The clogged filter and water that smells like rotten eggs got her talking to neighbors. She found everyone in their area is having the issues.

Resident Danny Kouns said about the water, “You had to hold your breath.”

Danny and Carla Kouns live about a quarter-mile from the Wabash River. They bought the house almost 30 years ago and have had no problems with the water from the well.

Earlier this year, both the Kouns and their neighbors noticed an increasingly foul odor coming from their water about the same time work crews were drilling in a field next to their house.

Danny Kouns told I-Team 8, “And finally, it was probably in April, maybe, or May, I happened to go by when and they were coming out the field down there, and I stopped and asked the guy, ‘What are you doing out there?’ and he was like, ‘We are drilling some test wells,’ and I was, like, ‘What are they for?’ and he said, “I don’t know.’”

The Kouns and their neighbors depend on well water. If the well dries up, they fear their property value will go right down the drain.

When the drilling started, Danny Kouns says, his water filter became clogged with sand, and the sand ruined some of his appliances. He said that, prior to the drilling, the water from the well was outstanding. He’s furious that he has little or no control over what’s happening to their water

“From what I’m hearing now, there is pretty much nothing we can do. I mean, they are going to come in and they are going to do it, and, from what I’m told, there are no laws on the books or anything to stop them.”

I-Team 8 previous reported about resolutions passed by the West Lafayette and Attica city councils to stop the state from taking water from the Wabash River area.

Some of the questions why the state is looking for water were addressed at a recent informational meeting. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. said at that meeting that the water drilling was associated with a huge industrial development in Boone County, and 2 million gallons a day were pulled from the wells during a three-day test run. The Economic Development Corp. says it needs 50 million gallons of water a day or more to supply the Boone County project.

Kouns and his neighbors say the test run was bad enough on their water quality. His wife Carla says if the state gets their way she fears the water in the well maybe gone forever .

Carla Kouns said, “And with them doing the test wells, I just feel like that they’re going to pull water out of here, they’re going to leave us high and dry, and it is not going to matter what we say. We’re little people.”