Is road salt contaminating drinking water in Montgomery County?


    Is road salt contaminating drinking water in Montgomery County? (ABC7)

    A growing concern in Montgomery County. Is rock salt used to treat roads during the winter causing major issues with drinking water? A family says their well is contaminated and blames county salt trucks. County Officials told the family it’s not the County’s fault.

    I-Team Reporter Scott Taylor has discovered Montgomery County denied the family’s insurance claim without testing the family's drinking water.

    The Melson family noticed two years ago a mineral buildup on their faucets at their home in Damascus, Maryland.

    "We noticed that the faucet was just getting corroded in the bathroom and it got so bad we couldn't turn the faucet,” says Marsha Melson.

    The water comes from a 40-year-old well in the front yard.

    "It's right here under our little light house,” adds Melson.

    It's also next to Clarksburg Road owned by Montgomery County.

    "The road is right there so we have snow trucks coming through and when there is snow indicated or when we have snow they are salting the roads heavily and that's draining down into our water system... our aquifer that feeds our home,” says Melson.

    The Melsons tell Call For Action and the I-Team it had their well water tested twice. Master Water Conditioning Corporation and Fredericktowne Labs found high levels of chloride, hardness and almost three times the recommended chloride level or salt.

    Master Water Conditioning Corporation test results:

    Master Water Conditioning Corporation test results: (ABC7)

    Fredericktowne Labs test results:

    Fredericktowne Labs test results. (ABC7)

    The Melsons put in an insurance claim with Montgomery County.

    "I would like them to dig another well. I think that's the most cost effective way,” says Melson.

    CorVel Corporation, the County's insurance carrier, denied the Melson's claim last year stating, "After careful consideration of the facts involved in this claim, we feel we must decline payment".

    CorVel Corporation letter:

    CorVel Corporation letter. (ABC7)

    We reached out to Montgomery County which admits CorVel never tested the well water.

    "Are those numbers alarming to you or not?” asks I-Team Reporter Scott Taylor.

    "Those are not good numbers whether it’s our rock salt is the only question here. Where it's our salt or other salt that is naturally occurring,” says Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich,

    We did some digging. Other counties including Howard and Baltimore County plus the Maryland Department of Transportation pay out claims on wells that are affected by road salt.

    Baltimore County paid out more than $3 million in the past four years in contaminated wells.

    MDOT pays out too if it confirms the well has a chloride level exceeding 250 milligrams per liter.

    The Melson's chloride level is 770 milligrams per liter.

    The Melson's representative on Montgomery County Council, Craig Rice, says the Melson's issues are incredibly concerning.

    "I do think it's time for us to start stepping up and doing testing to ensure that we are not putting our constituents at risk." Montgomery County Councilman Craig Rice (District 2).

    After the I-Team started asking questions, Montgomery County is now asking CorVel to take a second look.

    "They made a decision that I'm not comfortable they did enough work that's why I asked them to go back and look at it,” says County Executive Marc Elrich,

    "We have done nothing wrong. Now we are facing a liability with our drinking water and nobody will do anything about it,” says Melson.

    County Executive Marc Elrich told us on camera on February 1st he would have the County take a second look at the well. At last report, the County has not gone back to investigate the contaminated well.

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