Tests showed problems at Pasco sinkhole site in 2012

LAND O’ LAKES, Fla. (WFLA) — Pasco County officials announced Tuesday there does not appear to be any E.coli contamination in the wells of homes in the area near a massive sinkhole that opened in Land O’ Lakes last Friday.

County officials have tested 20 wells in the area, but plan to continue monitoring. And while the E.coli test results came back quickly, other tests for other possible containments will take longer.

“It will take about one to two weeks to get it because they are going to expedite it for us,” said Environmental Administrator Greg Crumpton.

Pasco officials now estimate the hole is 225 feet wide and approximately 50 feet deep. Water in the hole has gone down about five feet since it first appeared on Friday.

Pasco officials are urging anyone within 500 feet of the hole to use bottled water.

David Valverde lives on Ocean Pines Drive just a few doors down from the home that collapsed and he’s not taking any chances.

“That’s all I have is bottle water right now. I use that for bathing and that kind of stuff. If it starts smelling, then I’ll stop that,” said Valverde.

He is also worried now about home values going down in the area because of the sink hole and all of the attention it’s drawn.

“I’m not going to be able to sell it for a long time,” he said.

Signs of problems where the sinkhole has now claimed two homes first started showing up in 2012.

Byron Anderson is an engineer who was called to the home to do testing in 2012. He says his company did a visual survey of the home, performed test borings and used ground penetrating radar.

The tests revealed sinkhole damage but at the time, there were only hairline cracks in the walls of the home.

“Ultimately we did determine it was structurally damaged,” said Anderson.

Anderson says although there was structural damage visible in 2012, nothing would indicate the catastrophic collapse that happened on Friday.

“The borings do show evidence of sinkhole activity for sure, but they are not borings that I would typically look at and say, oh my God it’s just a matter of time before this house is going to collapse,” said Anderson.

The homeowner and insurance company were given the choice of spending $30,000 on underpinnings to firm up the foundation.

For an additional $150,000 grout would be pumped under the home to fill underground voids, but the cost was only an estimate.

The company performing the work would not know the total bill until they finished pumping and in some cases, the estimate and final cost can differ greatly.

“It’s rare that a compaction grout job receives exactly the amount of grout that’s estimated,” said Anderson.

Eventually, only the underpinning work was done but Anderson says even if the grout had been pumped in underground it may not have prevented the huge sinkhole from forming.

“What happened is we are just man, we don’t have the capability to fully predict what mother nature is going to do in a situation like this,” said Anderson.

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