Resident upset over walk back on water-test reimbursement

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SHOSHONE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) It’s been months since Rob Geesen had to worry about his water being safe to drink.

Back in March, he and many other Shoshone residents weren’t sure.

When they turned on their faucets they saw dirty, yellow water that smelled like manure. It led to Lincoln County and local health districts issuing orders to boil the water or cease use completely until you could verify it was free of contaminants. To do that you needed a $16 test.

A cost the county said they could reimburse.

“We were told to bring the receipts to the county, which I did,” Geesen said. “The county collected our receipts and told me that they would be getting back to us with reimbursement.”

That was in March, and now in December he still hasn’t seen a reimbursement despite asking the county multiple times.

In June the county said they were waiting for FEMA money, and in July they said they were waiting for a lawsuit against the dairy, Geesen said.

Lincoln County Commission Chairman Cresley McConnell said the reimbursement was never promised.

“We as the county commissioners knew that this wouldn’t happen until the state reimbursed us,” he said.

He swears he never guaranteed a reimbursement. Residents were told to turn in their receipts in case emergency money from the state or federal government was granted so the county would know how much and to whom. However the state funding was denied, because many of the affected wells were private.

“I truly apologize,” McConnell said. “I really do. If the wrong message got sent we never intended for that to happen at all.”

He said he’s upset that residents are upset given what the county did in the spring to help people whose wells were tainted.

McConnell estimates the county spent upwards of $2,000 getting bottled water to affected residents and making sure they had somewhere to shower and water for their animals.

Geesen said reimbursing the residents shouldn’t cost very much.

“We’re talking 40 wells at $16 a well,” he said.

But it’s not just about the money for him. It’s about the promise.

“I feel if they go on the record stating we’ll be reimbursed, they need to reimburse us,” he said.

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