Contract does not cover lifetime water service payments
NEWBURG — A proposal to provide a permanent water source for four Newburg families whose wells were compromised by seepage from the old Whitetail mine falls short of what the families want.
And town officials don’t like it either.
When a representative from Lexington Coal Co. approached them with a proposal in June, Melissa Simons said they refused to sign it.
Simons, whose parents, Roger and Brenda Simons, had their well compromised by the mine, said the State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) brought papers for them to sign up for Newburg water.
She said according to the proposal, Lexington Coal would only pay for the water line and the $150 hook up, but the families whose wells were destroyed would be responsible for the monthly water bills.
Earlier, Brenda Simons said the homeowners didn’t want to pay for water from the town. She believed Lexington should cover that cost because the company was to blame for the well contamination.
“We would like free water from our town for life. We can’t drink the water that is delivered; it has sulfur in it. We have been buying (water) to drink and to cook with. The water (Lexington Coal has delivered) from Pennsylvania only helps with not staining the toilets and shower, our clothes and doesn’t mess our washer up,” she said.
In 2019, water from Lexington’s closed deep mine seeped into wells that provided drinking water for the Simonses and three other families.
The four families filed complaints with the DEP. The complaints were investigated and the DEP ordered Lexington Coal Co. to provide an emergency drinking water supply within 24 hours, provide a temporary water supply within 72 hours and within 30 days begin activities to establish a permanent water supply or submit a proposal outlining the measures and timetables to be used in establishing a permanent supply, according to DEP Complaint Investigation Reports.
Newburg officials were not happy with the proposal either.
Sheila Williams, attorney for the town of Newburg, has said she sent the proposal back to Lexington because parts of it were unclear.
“I spoke with Lexington’s attorney, and it sounded like Newburg was selling water to Lexington,” Williams said.
The town also wanted to have a representative on site where Lexington is putting in the water lines. Once the project is completed it will be turned over to the town of Newburg.
“I don’t know if the lines will even go to the houses,” Williams said, referring to the homes of the families whose wells were ruined.
She said if Lexington is not going to pay the water bills for the families as new customers they will have to sign an agreement to pay for town water for three years.
Williams said she has had no further updates on the project from Lexington Coal.
“I talked with the mayor (Newburg Mayor Edgar Fortney) recently and he hasn’t heard anything either,” she said.
Lexington Coal did not reply in time for this story.