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Hillsborough County takes action to improve water quality in neglected community

A low-income community next to the University of South Florida has long suffered from a lack of clean water.

Dr. Sarah Combs is an advocate for the Hillsborough community of University and the CEO of University Area Development Corporation. When Combs overheard neighborhood mothers complaining about not being able to bathe their own children at home, she was concerned.

“They brought me to their house and showed me the water. When they turned on the faucet it was brown, and they said their kids were getting UTIs, ringworm, so they couldn’t bathe their children.”

Dr. Combs investigated, and what she found was troubling.

“It wasn’t just that specific apartment complex. It was a number of different apartments in the community and homes in the community that didn’t have access to clean drinking water, as well as sewer.”

Many homes were built without connections to water and sewer, or never connected when services became available. They rely on private wells and septic tanks, sometimes with poor water quality.

Hillsborough County has created a new program to improve water quality for residents by converting them to city water. It’s free for residential property owners.