Residents fear water contamination at new pond near Goddard

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SEDGWICK COUNTY, Kan. -- The Sedgwick County Commission approves plans for a construction company to dig near Goddard.

However, Mike Gaddie fears it will eventually hurt their drinking water.

"It is highly likely that our water table will be, could possibly be contaminated it is well within the range of possible contamination," said Gaddie, who lives near the proposed project at 13th and 151st Street West.

The project allows Bergkamp Construction to excavate the topsoil in the area. The company plans to dig a pond, which may take several years to finish.

Milo Unruh, legal counsel for Bergkamp, said the crews would not be on site every day. Yet, on days the project would run, people could see six trucks carrying up to 200 loads a day.

The thought of the high-traffic volume upsets Elaine Selenkes, who has lived in the area for decades. She often walks on the dirt roads near her home, and says many people horseback ride nearby.

"I'm concerned," she said. "It's just changing our neighborhood. I don't like it, but i can't do anything about it. We've tried."

The commission did make a few amendments in regards to what the residents were concerned about, including the following:
- Operation hours would be reduced to 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Excavation would reach a depth of 15 feet maximum. Removal of a minimum extraction depth of 6 feet below the water table.
- No sand mining. Use of sand in the area could increase the risk for groundwater contamination.

Berkcamp Construction says the plans are limited to digging the pond. The company will dig 15 feet into the soil, limiting risks for toxins in the water, said Brad Vincent, Ground Water Geologist.

Vincent said that below the dig site is 20 to 25 feet of clay known as aquatard. It will help protect contaminants from seeping into the aquifer.

Though the opportunity of risk is low, Vincent said excessive fertilizer can create problems. Most water supplies do contain chlorides, but there are standards for what's considered a healthy amount. He said if contaminants are in the pond and runoff into the soil, that may also be a hazard. It could take years before people notice problems with the drinking water. He said the way the water flows, contamination would likely move southeast of the dig site.

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