McCOOK, Nebraska -- City officials reported there was little risk to city drinking water from petroleum contamination near the McCook Taco John's restaurant, which the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality is attempting to evaluate.
"As far as drinking water, our closest well is one and a half miles east of the site," Utility Director Jesse Dutcher informed the McCook City Council Monday evening.
Dutcher said the plume is to the southwest of the Taco John's lot and even if it were to spread to the east, the Republican River is between the site and the city's nearest well. Dutcher said the river would act as a natural buffer and contamination of city drinking water was "probably not a concern."
According to Dutcher, city water mains are buried four to five feet underground and made of cast iron, which is impervious to petroleum products. Dutcher said he visited with NDEQ officials recently and they indicated the contamination was at groundwater level, "which is well below where our water mains are at."
Council members subsequently approved the request from a company contracted by NDEQ to use city right-of-way to install additional petroleum contamination monitoring wells. The new wells will bring the total number installed in the area to more than 30, which are associated with evaluating the petroleum products groundwater contamination stemming from the location being home to a gas station prior to 1976.
City Manager Jeff Hancock said it was a pretty typical situation that occurs from petroleum contamination sites, stemming from gas stations, and added that many of the regulations in place today pertaining to underground gas tanks weren't developed until the 1990s.
Public Works Director Kyle Potthoff said NDEQ was attempting to pinpoint the location of the contamination plume so they could remediate it in the future.
Councilman Mike Gonzales asked whether that meant stopping the spread or drawing the contamination out of the ground.
Potthoff said that action would be dependent on the results of the evaluation and what NDEQ chose to do.
Dutcher said the Taco John's site was considered an "orphan site" by NDEQ, which was discovered and traced to the source when they were monitoring contamination stemming from the former Coastal Mart site nearby.
The contamination site extends south from property north of B Street, between West 7th Street and West 8th Street, and covers an area on both sides of West 8th Street. The six new monitoring wells will determine whether the contamination continues further south and encompasses a nearby residential property, as well as property that is home to a Frito Lay warehouse, Hometown Family Radio and Doyle Auto Repair.
Also during Monday's regularly scheduled meeting, Councilman Mike Gonzales asked city staff if a one-year punch list of items needing completion at the new Municipal Center would be coordinated with the contractor, as the building neared its 12 month anniversary since construction.
City Clerk Lea Ann Doak said a walkthrough and 11 month punch list had recently been conducted with the contractor. Doak said the contractor was making progress on completing the items and added the building was "getting close to it officially being ours."
Mayor Berry said he applauded this past weekends Christmas parade and downtown reindeer petting and appreciated the streets department assistance in arranging the events.
Councilors also approved a request from McCook Christian Church to close a portion of West Fourth Street for an event on December 14. The church will close West Fourth Street, between B Street and C Street, from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. for a living nativity titled "A Night in Bethlehem."
The event is scheduled from 4-8 p.m. and the street will be blocked for an extended time to allow for setup prior and cleanup afterwards.