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Wildomar water fight over unsafe nitrates

September 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Imagine never being able to use the water in your home because it's too dangerous to drink. That's the situation facing dozens of families in Wildomar. The city and Riverside County know it's a problem but nothing's been done yet. One homeowner is trying to take matters into his own hands.

Wildomar resident George Lippincott dares not drink the tap water anymore after county testing revealed a dangerous level of nitrates. So as a form of protest, Lippincott has stopped paying his water bill.

"I refuse to pay people to poison my kids," said Lippincott.

But after years of not paying, Lippincott says the company still refuses to address the problem, and now they're threatening to cap off his water main. If that happens, the city says they'll "red-tag" his residence, forcing his family to leave. So he says he has no choice but to pay up, even though he says his water still isn't drinkable.

"We do use the water to flush our toilets and to shower, that's it," said Lippincott. "We don't cook in it no more, I'm afraid to even wash our clothes in it, so I've been going to the laundromats, but it's been a real hardship."

The well in question supplies water to more than 100 homes in Wildomar and Menifee, water that the county agrees is unsafe to drink.

"Oh, you shouldn't drink that water," said Riverside County First District Supervisor Bob Buster.

Buster says something needs to be done. And it may involve bringing the case before a judge and working with the surrounding cities to take control of the water well.

"That will take some time, but we'll push this real hard to get people together and solve it," said Buster.

Between his family and pets, Lippincott says he goes through close to 30 bottles of water a day. It's getting very expensive, but he says he has no choice.

"I'm never going to stop the fight, I will continue until the water is cleaned up in this neighborhood. I won't give up," said Buster.

A private utility called County Water of Riverside is responsible for the well in that area. Eyewitness News has asked the utility for comment, but did not receive a reply.


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