Ashland's $2.8 million water woes

Call it builder's remorse. Many years ago, the town of Ashland hopelessly contaminated its underground water supply, and the town's few hundred residents have been paying the price ever since. At last, relief is in sight, though it's going to be expensive: The USDA is going to spend almost $3 million putting in a new water system, the Catskill Daily Mail reports.

Water has to be imported to wash the town's fire trucks, which would corrode otherwise, and trying to keep washing machines and boiler pipes from swiftly rusting out is a losing battle.

Nobody is certain why everything went bad. The prevailing theory is that newer, deeper wells, drilled 80 feet down and more, tapped into nasty minerals that seeped into the underground network.

Increased housing development in the hills beyond the town may have stirred things up, with more wells and re-directed storm runoff disturbing the liquid depths in ways unseen.

The new water system will mostly benefit Main Street, the article says -- and somehow, the hamlet's few residents and businesses will have to come up with $720,000, their share of the $2.8 million total bill for the project.

Til then, Ashlanders are stuck with water that looks "like Yoohoo" and can occasionally be set on fire with a match.