7 On Your Side: Family Blames Drilling Company For Unusable Water - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

8/27/07-Harrison County

7 On Your Side: Family Blames Drilling Company For Unusable Water

Since we've been married this has been our home. This is where we wanted country life and quietness," says Valerie Townsend sitting in her living room.

But that lifestyle for the Townsends would take a complete 180 degree turn, when the water from their well took its own turn for the worst.

"It began coming out red. The water itself out of the faucet was red," Valerie explains.

It was so bad it stained their bathroom sink. Their bathroom toilets took on the same color.  And their once sparkling white showers have taken on an unsightly shade.

"We can't live anywhere else," says Valerie looking at her badly stained shower.  "We have to use [the shower]"

Also ruined is their dishwasher, washing machine and their clothes which now have to be washed at a local laundromat.

Valerie adds, "Up until then, we drank the water, washed in it, bathed in it, there was absolutely no problem.  Until after [NEG Operating] started drilling."

NEG Operating out of Dallas is who the Townsends have now filed a lawsuit against.

While drilling for gas this past January, the Townsends believe NEG damaged the shallow sands underneath the ground. Sands that are on the same level as the Townsend's water well.

The family's attorney Greg Love says, "Immediately after the operations began they started having problems, started noticing issues with the water. Bottom line what we're asking for is to be put back into a position of where they were before the operations began."

Water tests were done where one inspector noted the water is not treatable and recommends a new well be installed.

But the Townsends say NEG Operating is denying responsibility.

"Nobody came to look at it yet they were able to claim that they're not responsible?" asks KLTV 7 Reporter Christine Nelson to Valerie.  She replies, "Nobody [from NEG Operating] would come out here. We couldn't get anybody to return the calls."

If or when this goes before a judge the Townsends are asking for $21,000 in damage. A conservative estimate, they say, considering what they've been through.

"All we want is to go back before all this happened. To have clean water, a new well and to have fixtures and toiletries replaced in the house," pleads Valerie.

Since 7 On Your Side's calls to NEG Operating's attorneys, which too went unanswered, the gas company has since filled the pit the Townsends have been saying was causing the problem.

In NEG Operating's formal response to the lawsuit the company is denying accusations of negligence and damages to the family's land. So this may very well be going before a Harrison county judge to settle in court.

Christine Nelson Reporting cnelson@kltv.com

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