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City identifies employees responsible for low chlorine levels

Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 9:10 PM CDT
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LAREDO, TX. (KGNS) - UPDATE: After an investigation into the low choline levels in the city’s water system, the people responsible have now been identified.

That’s according to a Facebook post on the City of Laredo City Manager’s Office page.

Robert Eads released a statement late Tuesday night saying, “Had an opportunity to discuss the boil water notice, what happened, and how are we fixing forward. Simply put, we found the plant superintendent and operator erroneously sending too little chlorine in the water system for the days that led up to the boil water notice.”

Eads goes on to say that the former employees will no longer be able to do this, and they have new controls to ensure it.

He adds they have found the root cause of the problem and have eradicated.

Below is the original text of the story:

According to the TCEQ and city officials, it was a citizen complaint that sparked an investigation into the water system.

The City of Laredo held a press conference on Tuesday where they provided more details on what happened.

“I want to begin by apologizing to the community to all the residents, to all the business owners, the mayor, city council... this is not acceptable,” said Robert Eads. “I realize that and I make no excuse for that.”

Two days into the city-wide boil water notice, city officials including City Manager Robert Eads and City Utilities Director Arturo Garcia came before the media and public to explain the reason behind the latest notice.

”The distribution system recently has experienced low chlorine as as a result of operational errors at the Jefferson Water Treatment Plant.”

The city and TCEQ say this all started on July 2nd.

A citizen complaint about the water was made to the TCEQ, and they responded immediately and verified low chlorine levels.

Later that day, the city issued a boil water notice to resident in certain areas.

On the 4th, the notice was extended city-wide after the TCEQ collected more samples of low levels around town.

At that time, Garcia said he started looking into the daily results from the Jefferson distribution plant, more specifically the month of June.

“I noticed some levels that were below what we were normally discharged from the plant.”

Garcia says the water flowing through the system needs to maintain a certain level of disinfectant to meet state requirements.

“As it travels through the pipes it gets used up, it ages, there’s areas that have dead ends, lines that are old, so it gets used up, the chlorine gets used up. That was the result of this situation.”

Garcia does tell us that the low levels were only found at the end of June.

He say they are looking into the situation at the plant and should reaching a conclusion soon.

“I’m still investigating as far as whether it was an operation error or a personnel issue.”

As of now, no bacteria has been detected in the water.

Now as far as public calls for discounts on their water bills, officials had this to say:

“We will be discussing that but also too we know it’s a very very big inconvenience to a lot of people but we still are providing, technically... you know, water is going through the system,” said Eads. “You are able to use it.”

Eads later clarified his statement saying you can only use the water for a few things like showering or doing laundry.

The city kicked off a chlorine conversion in the water system.

They continue to work with TCEQ to get the water back to state standards.

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