While Fairfax County worries about increasing its water supply at the Occoquan Reservoir and reducing the levels of chloroform in it, some Fairfax residents are struggling with their own problems of water contamination and shortages.
Every day since April, Nathaniel T. Dix of Chantilly has walked about a block to a neighbors house to fill up a plastic gallon jug with drinking water. The county's health department informed him that his well was contaminated by septic water.
Dix, a retired mechanic who lives at 3825 Chantilly Rd., is one of 16 residents in Chantilly Estates whose wells were judged to be contaminated.
"Thank goodness, there's only two of us at home, or I'd have to be hauling a lot more than a gallon and a half I get every day," said Dix. "This water thing has been nothing but problems for months now."
Dix, who sometimes picks up a supply of drinking water when he visits Dulles International Airport where he used to work, said that he had tried to sell his house in April, but the prospective buyer changed his mind when the well was not usable.
Dix said he replaced pipes leading from the well into his house, but that they did not solve the problem. He said his lot is not big enough to accommodate another well that would be as far wasy from his septic tank as state regulations require.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors yesterday decided to extend a water main in Chantilly Estates so that Dix and his neighbors soon will be able to buy water from the Fairfax County Water Authority.
"Then I'm getting out," Dix said. "I had no idea retiring and leaving [the Washington area] was going to be so much a problem."
Meanwhile, Layton Davis, owner of the Davis General Store at Makley's Corner in the town of Clifton in Southwest Fairfax, has been hauling home about six one-gallon containers of all-purpose water daily since his shallow well went dry three weeks ago.
"It's not too bad," he says, "since my wife's mother has water for us over in Franconia. And I can pick up water 'cross the street at the store. But I wouldn't want this to go on much longer."
Davis said his 31-foot deep well has not run dry since it was hand-dug in 1950. He recently received a permit from Fairfax County to dig a deeper well.
"It's probably a combination of this drought and all these new houses being built that made it run dry," he added. "Everything's in the same shape; the Occoquan is lower than I've ever seen it and I've been looking at it for the last 40 years."
Pablito Alarcon and his wife, of 4204 Wakefield Chapel Rd. in Annandale, traveled every other day to a relative's home in Arlington to take showers during July while their wells was dry.
"We have city water now, so it's almost hard to remember how bad it was then," Alarcon recalled. "Our neighbor had a long hose we would go to for all our water."
Dennis Hill, a sanitarian with Fairfax County Health Services, said there have been substantially more requests to either deepen or drill wells this summer than there have been in the past years he has worked for the county.
"All of a sudden there was this rash of permit requests," Hill said. "Usually we would get two, three or four a year; we must have gotten around 30 or 35 this summer."
While county residents with wells carefully watch their individual water supplies, the county government continues to measure the dropping water level at the Occoquan Reservoir, the county's major water supply, and monitor the levels of chloroform found in it.
The Occoquan's water level yesterday was 101 feet, 4 inches, another all-time low. The reservoir is estimated to be holding about 2.5 billion gallons, well less than one-third of its capacity.
Both Fairfax and Alexandria on Saturday imposed mandatory restrictions on water usage. The ban forbids most outdoor use of water, such as filling swimming pools, car washing and lawn watering.