CR3 News Magazine 2018 February: Black History Special Edition - Page 16

Alton Green of Jackson Citrus manages the orange groves surrounding Charleston Park. Green wouldn’t provide specifics about pesticide and fertilizer usage but noted they abide by best management practices. Oranges are typically sprayed less than other crops.

"We are good stewards of the environment and our water resources," he said in an email. "Potential nitrate sources are everywhere including septic tank systems."

Why is the well water so bad? Along with groundwater contamination, the lack of water treatment and shallow, old or poorly-maintained wells, it's also tied to geology.

Some of the most extensive results come from a test well drilled in 2008 to about 150 feet for a private water utility serving migrant housing once owned by Lee County Housing Authority. Water exceeded standards in radium, total dissolved solids, chlorides, sodium, and nitrites, and required reverse osmosis to make it drinkable. A lab manager said the radium was naturally-occurring.

Radium is a radionuclide, a carcinogen. Radionuclides exceeding maximum contaminant levels for community systems were discovered in some wells in that area, according to a 1987 letter from a Lee health department director that spelled out several contaminants in Charleston Park wells. A radiation survey done back then found there was not a “significant health hazard” to residents. But due to concerns, the water supply for the migrant housing was built about a mile or so from the community. “They specifically moved it off-site where they wouldn’t be impacted by radon," said Ken Thompson, the Lee County Housing Authority's lawyer.

Greg Rawl, a local hydrologist, pointed out that the total dissolved solids are higher than what he sees from the sandstone aquifer in other areas in the county. He concurred reverse osmosis would be needed. Home systems run into the thousands and Charleston Park homeowners with the money to buy such systems have few complaints about the water.

Janine Zeitlin, jzeitlin@news-press.comPublished 9:34 a.m. ET Oct. 27, 2017 | Updated 9:13 a.m. ET Jan. 25, 2018

... continued from previous page.

Abdi Hussein of the Florida Department of Health in Lee County (left) and Tim Byrne of Crystal Clear Water check out a contaminated well Wednesday at home in the Charleston Park community of Alva.