DOT project leaves family without water for months

NORWALK, Iowa (WHO) -- To many, carrying jugs of water to rinse off fruits and vegetables may seem like quality family time. But this has become a Warren County family's price to pay for the Department of Transportation's progress.

"It has been a nightmare for two months. Horrendous, horrible, no water," said Norwalk resident Erin Paschell.

In 2013, the DOT used eminent domain along Erin and her husband Mark Paschell's home for highway expansion along I-35. Erin said the well was off limits. "One of the things we were told in the contract was they would not dig within a certain area of the well and we were promised."

Two months ago, the project affected their 68-year-old well and only water source.

"Every single week our plans have been changed because of this water. We couldn't even have Christmas at our house."

Family left without water for months amid state construction project
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Family left without water for months amid state construction project
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(Photo: WHO)
(Photo: WHO)
(Photo: WHO)
(Photo: WHO)
(Photo: WHO)
(Photo: WHO)

The family of four with two small children finds life difficult without clean water.

"We cart in gallons of water every single day. We cook with our gallons of water. We cannot bath our kids in our home. We cannot do laundry in our home anymore."

Erin says she originally got nowhere when speaking to the DOT about the problem.

"We couldn't reach the man high enough on the totem pole that even cared to fix anything. That has been the most frustrating part."

DOT communications director Andrea Henry agrees with the Paschell's complaint.

"I can tell you we are actively looking into the situation to understand the timing where the breakdown might have occurred and working to resolve any issues that caused them to be without water," she said.

Erin said hooking up to Warren County's rural water system will not be a quick solution. "Not long ago we were told 30-60 days."

Tired of waiting for the DOT and Warren County to tell them when they would have clean water, Mark and a certified contractor took it upon themselves to dig a 300-yard trench and lay the water line to speed up the process.

"We will make some action if nobody else is," said Mark. "At least the water line is ran now. It's all there and all we have to do is get it hooked up to rural water. We will never get our well back."

The frustration may have even pushed the Paschells past the point of compensation.

"I don't even see how they can compensate us for our time and energy all that we have been through in two months," said Erin.

Despite the adversity, Erin already knows what to do when the clean water flows.

"Take a clean shower. I'm going to take a clean shower without any sediment in the water," she said.

The family has recently received an offer from the DOT to be put up in a hotel until the water problem is solved. They have also been told they would be reimbursed for cleaning supplies they will have to use due to the damage the dirty water has created.

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