Wells near Pasco County sinkhole test negative for E.coli

Posted at 4:27 AM, Jul 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-19 06:43:37-04

UPDATE | July 18 at 4:45 p.m.

Tests conducted by the Pasco County Government's Environmental Lab on 20 wells near the Land O' Lakes sinkhole show no traces of E.coli.  Additional tests are being conducted with the Florida Department of Health.

Pasco County leader say they will also test the 20 wells for contaminates such as metals, nitrates and arsenic.


Pasco County is testing the drinking water in a neighborhood after a huge sinkhole opened up on Friday. The county says the reason it's doing the testing has nothing to do with physical health. 

The water inside the large 230-foot wide, 50-foot deep sinkhole is full of toxic debris. Contaminants, chemicals and sewage swirling in the water. The fear is that it's going to get into the groundwater. The neighborhood runs on well water. Which is precisely why the county is testing the drinking water on Monday.

Two families now left homeless. Teresa Villa is haunted by the sound of her home crumbling around her.

PHOTO GALLERY | Sinkhole swallows 2 homes in Land O' Lakes

"We're doing very bad, very bad," she said.

She's warning her neighbors.

"To the community, I warn them that they should be very careful because all of that is infected," she said as she pointed toward the sinkhole.

RELATED | Sinkhole swallows 2 homes in Land O' Lakes neighborhood; cleanup could take months

Pasco County Emergency Management is sending a team to test the drinking water of at least 15 homes. They'll be checking for E. Coli, fecal matter, chemicals and other substances that would make the water unsafe for drinking. Kevin Guthrie, Director of Emergency Management, said they've spoken with experts and the health department. All of which, he insists, call it a low risk.

"The whole reason we are doing this is to manage their [the community's] fears," he said. "One of the things as an emergency management official is I have to manage expectations and calm people's fears."

RELATED | Pasco sinkhole: Cleanup will take months, some residents allowed back home

Neighbors we spoke with tell ABC Action News they are relieved the county is doing it for their sake.

"I agree, we need to have peace of mind if we are going to stay here," said Jennifer Margo. She lives right by the sinkhole but was not forced to evacuate. Right now, she says she's not sure whether she'll continue to stay in the neighborhood.

Teresa Villa, heartbroken all over again this morning. She went up to her home to see with fresh eyes the extend of the damage and to see if she could get any of her belongings. However, after showing her around the sinkhole, Guthrie told her it's too unsafe for him to permit them entrance. 

"Helpless, I feel totally helpless. 10 years living in this home, 20 years in this country. Everything is lost," said Villa. While her family is renting the home, all their valuables and memories are priceless.They are, however, taking comfort in what they could save.

RELATED | Before you buy a home, check out this sinkhole map

"Everything is lost. All we could save in time was my grandparent's ashes," said Anabel Padron.

But they say they don't trust the ground on Ocean Pine Drive and won't come back.

"No. No. Never again!" said Villa, "I don't want anything more to do with this because it will bring me bad memories."

This family is homeless but say they feel satisfied the county is taking action to protect their neighbors.

Meanwhile, county leaders say it's going to take a couple of days to get results from their lab. On Monday morning, they will test all nine homes that were evacuated. They will also do random testing on another six to 11 homes around the neighborhood. Every home that they pick will be tested for free. For anyone else that wants their home tested, there is a $7 fee.