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Yakama Nation investigation claims hundreds of Wapato residents at risk for contamination

Yakama Nation investigation claims hundreds of Wapato residents at risk for contamination

WAPATO, Wash.- Leaders from the Yakama Nation are working to find a solution for possible water contamination issues that could affect hundreds of homes right outside of Wapato.

According to a report by the Yakama Nation Water Code Administration (WCA) four different communities have been identified as being non-compliant with Yakama Nation water code domestic well standards due to wells being too close to septic tanks.

"It's a serious threat to people's health," said Tony Guzman, Mayor of Wapato.

Neighborhoods at risk are near Skone Way, Home Acres, and Horschel Road.

Leaders from the WCA are now proposing those neighborhoods be rezoned into the Wapato city limits.

Resident in areas of concern were invited to attend a public meeting to discuss the water quality and address the potential health threats.

"It could be anything from petroleum byproduct that got into the water system from anti-freeze, gas, or oil. It could be E. coli from a septic tank that's too close to the actual well... so there's various factors involved," said Guzman.

However, many affected residents are concerned about something else.

We spoke with a few residents along Skone Way who shared with us that their well water has been tested and is not contaminated. However, their concern is being annexed into city limits as part of Wapato’s urban growth plan.

Changing to city water would be a major expense for them.

Residents say they currently pay anywhere from $70 to $144 dollars per year.

Mayor Guzman says changing to city utilities could mean paying up to around $2,640 per year.

And getting water to the neighborhoods wouldn't be cheap for the city either.

"We're talking between $30 to $31-million dollars and the city doesn't have that money," said Guzman.

However, Mayor Guzman says they are still at the very beginning stages of their search for a solution, and no set decision has been made.

Mayor Guzman says they plan to meet again within the next three or four months to continue to have conversations with local residents and those involved with the investigation.

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