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NAPLES, Italy — Distribution of free water to Navy personnel living off base in Naples will begin next week, the base commander told people who attended a town hall meeting Thursday night.

The meeting was the first hosted by Capt. Robert Rabuse, commander of Naval Support Activity Naples, who took charge of the base in June. After a brief recap of the ongoing Naples health assessment, Rabuse told the roughly 100 attendees that water distribution would begin "hopefully by Monday, but no later than Wednesday."

The Navy Exchange will use a database provided by the housing office to ensure only eligible personnel receive the free water.

During the meeting, some residents voiced concerns about the proximity of their homes to three U.S.-leased houses in Casal di Principe that recently tested positive for volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

"I live real close to [one of the homes]. I’m in the zone of not knowing if I have the same level of VOCs in my house," said one concerned resident.

Rabuse said all U.S.-leased residences within a 500-foot radius of the three VOC-positive homes will be tested.

Furthermore, Rabuse placed a moratorium on lease signings for homes on well water. He said he wouldn’t allow anyone to move into a house using well water until the landlords provided documentation certifying the water was safe.

Other topics of discussion included housing issues, specifically why single civilians without dependents weren’t allowed to live on the base in light of numerous vacancies in two-bedroom apartments.

"Since I got here," Rabuse said, "I’ve been working to get single civilians into housing. It’s not a simple process, because it involves different pots of money."

Though a request has been made to convert some of the family housing units to bachelor housing units, Rabuse said he didn’t know when he would get an answer to that request.

He also said the base was looking at other options, such as having the Navy Exchange, which manages the Navy Lodge, manage the units that single civilians would be able to move to.

Most of the issues raised dealt with concerns of living on the economy, free water not withstanding.

"I totally am freaking out. Everybody says ‘don’t worry, don’t worry, we’re going to test (the water and soil in the area.) But I don’t want to wait. … I’m stuck here with rats and burning garbage and asthma. … I just totally want to leave," said one resident who lives in Lago Patria. "This is just unbelievable."

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