Crisis - Residents Outraged
6/4/99 A sewer leak in Warwick NY has caused the
worst outbreak of
water-borne illness in Orange County to date, health officials said. Residents in two Warwick
Township communities (Wickham Knolls and Wickham Village) have been sickened by drinking
water which was contaminated when a sewer pipe leaked e coli infected raw sewage into
their wells. A breakdown of the sewer system's chlorination pumps further abetted the
Almost 1,000 Warwick residents get their drinking water from the affected
Irate homeowners, claiming that the sewer leak was neglected for weeks, have called
for the dismissal of the town supervisor, the town health dept. of public works commissioner, and
JCO, Inc., the company which is contracted by Warwick to operate the water and sewer
Hundreds of residents have come down with e coli symptoms - nausea,
vomiting, diarrhea, headache, etc. - and have been instructed to boil the water until further notice.
The sewer pipe leak, which also gave off a sickening stench, covered about an acre of land in
proximity to four of the district's five wells (one of which is only 35 feet from the leak). A water tanker
has been made available for resident's use while the leak and spill are being
"Big Water" systems have not always been kind to Warwick. Several years
ago, appx. 1,000 residents in the Greenwood Lake section of Warwick were sickened during an
outbreak of giardiasis, caused by bacterial contamination of GL's public water system .
any given year, thousands of Americans are sickened (some are killed) by water-borne illnesses
directly caused by sewerpipe leaks into their drinking water supply.
6/6/99 About 250
infuriated Warwick residents confronted the Powers That Be at a town meeting yesterday re: the
above sewer leak situation. At that meeting , which was was demanded by the residents, it was
charged that the leak has been in existence (and getting progressively worse) since last
October.Adding to e coli victims' outrage, the Orange Cty. Health Dept. has declined to
test the affected water for hepatitis and other pathogens because, officials said, there have not
been enough hospital cases to warrant such testing. Meanwhile residents said local doctors had
advised them not to bother seeking treatment but to "let the toxins pass through their systems,"
although several residents said they had taken their severely ill children for medical attention.
Other residents reported suffering fevers and mouth sores along with the vomiting and other
symptoms of e coli infection. Officials who tried to minimize the crisis were repeatedly
shouted down by members of the angry audience, who called for the dismissal of everyone
responsible for the alleged neglect of the sewer leak.