Coal ash dump neighbors won't drink their own well water

Story by Stuart Watson, NBC Charlotte

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Sherry grew up on a lake, so water is important to her. She surrounds herself with water-- from the pond in front of her home-- to the pond behind her home, which she once enjoyed.

But that pond behind her home is filled with coal ash from Duke Energy's Buck Steam Station, and after Duke drained the pond, a stand of dead trees emerged. 

Sherry says she never really thought about living next to a coal ash pond until this year. 

“Duke has made us feel like it's okay in this community,” she said, “We've always heard they're a good neighbor and I trusted that. I honestly trusted that. And now I'm questioning that.” 

Questioning it because of what she discovered when Donna Lisenby of the Waterkeeper's Alliance sampled her well water, along with a dozen of her neighbors, and sent it to an accredited lab for testing. 

“She found lead at 19 parts per billion. The state standard is 15 parts per billion. That may not sound like much but when you have small children, that's of great concern to me,” she said.  

Like all of her more than 100 neighbors near the rural Dukeville community northeast of Salisbury, Sherry's family gets their water from a well in the ground.