Officials: Sinkhole widens, tests positive for coliform

Some water surrounding Pasco sinkhole tests positive for coliform bacteria

Update as of July 19: Pasco County officials announced Wednesday that the sinkhole in Land O' Lakes has widened by 10 feet but remains dormant at this time, which means it won't get any deeper. Sand is likely causing debris to sink into the hole. 

"There is no support for that sand. As the water table goes down, that sand has nothing to hold it in place. So, that sand is falling out which then causes the grass and top soil to collapse,” says Pasco emergency manager Kevin Guthrie.

The edges are at a 90-degree angle, making it easy for the topsoil to cave in.

The plan now is to make them into a 45-degree slope.

Officials are going to need a lot of dirt to control the hole from widening anymore.

Here's the problem: the ground might not be stable to handle the weight of dump trucks carrying the sand.

“We're trying to determine if there is any sinkholes or any other activity under the ground before we bring the dump trucks in. Once we have figured that out, then we will start bringing that dirt in,” says Guthrie.

As of now, two homes around the sinkhole have "right of entry" for officials in an emergency situation and other neighbors surrounding the sinkhole are "go bag" ready.  

Tests of the Pasco County sinkhole have turned up negative for E.coli, county officials announced Tuesday afternoon.

However, further testing resulted in some of the water surrounding the sinkhole coming up positive for coliform bacteria. Officials say it is likely caused by dirty wells.

Some of the water wells in the community are around 10-20 years old. Some of them have never been cleaned before.

Pasco County announced it is waiving the fees for well water testing for more than 400 homes along Lake Padgett and Lake Saxton through July 28.

Residents on the following streets can get their water tested for free: Bronze Leaf Place, Canal Place, Clover Leaf Lane, Flat Rock Place, Grove Place, Heatherwood Lane, Lake Padgett Drive, Lake Saxon Drive, Ocean Pines Drive, Panther Way, Peninsular Drive, Pine Shadow Drive, Rain Forest Place, Snook Circle, Swans Landing Drive and Wilsky Road. 

Residents who want their water tested can

  • Go to the Pasco County Environmental Laboratory located at 8864 Government Drive in New Port Richey and request a test kit for Total Coliform. 
  • Present proof of address and receive lab instructions to collect water. 
  • Take a sample of their tapwater according to lab protocols, and bring the sample and associated paperwork back to the laboratory. 
  • Results will be available in 2 days.  

According to the Washington State Department of Health, coliform bacteria is present in the outside environment as well as in the feces of warm-blooded animals and humans. Coliform will likely not cause illness but could be an indicator of pathogens in drinking water.

Pasco County is working to secure bids from contractors to do debris removal at the sinkhole site.  This is an effort to prevent any public health issues that could arise from possible contaminants in the sinkhole.

The county is continuing to work with a contractor, Intertek-PSI, to test the structural integrity of Ocean Pines Drive and County easements leading up to the sinkhole.

Original story as of July 18:

Tests of the Pasco County sinkhole have turned up negative for E.coli, county officials say.

Pasco's Environmental Lab tested 20 wells in and around the area of the sinkhole and said "100 percent of the the tests were negative for E.coli," officials said.

The county said it continues to work with the Florida Department of Health on all well testing.

State officials will test 20 wells in the area of the sinkhole for contaminates such as metals, nitrates, and arsenic

State health officials encouraged residents to use bottled water, especially those within 500 feet of the sinkhole until their drinking water is fully tested.  If you see your water become clouded or change in smell, or taste you should also take precautions by using bottled water.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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