City responds to TCEQ report timeline of water boil advisory

LAREDO, TX (KGNS) - The community went wild when they found out just over a month ago in late September that they were being advised to boil their water. At that time the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality was investigating the state of the water.

The results of that investigation were revealed here first on KGNS News, which show that the City of Laredo was advised to release the boil notice more than a week before they actually did.

It was on September 28th that the City of Laredo alerted residents that a boil water notice was in place due to an investigation into our water by the TCEQ. A closer look into that investigation shows that the TCEQ asked the City to issue that notice eight days earlier.

Now that the report is out, the Utilities Director says there are some concerns he has with what is in there, such as factual issues with the timeline that needs correcting.

More specifically, the time the TCEQ notified them about the water boil notice. He says the eight day notice isn't exactly what the public thinks.

This is something that Mayor Pete Saenz also says was alarming about the report.

"They say that we should have been issued the boil water notice on September 20th, we waited eight days, but all these eight days we are working with TCEQ,” said Utilities Director Riazul Mia. “Because the law says within 24 hours we can bring the chlorine about .5, we are okay, so we've been working yes, we're bringing up, it's going down, we're bringing up, it's going down, so it's not that we didn't tell the public. We are working with the state."

"I noticed that too, in the report that was provided to us yesterday, there's an inconsistency,” said Mayor Saenz. “I personally, and I think others, were not aware that we were in violation as of the 20th, and apparently now TCEQ has determined that the boil water notice should have been issued as of September 20th. My understanding based on the meetings we've had with TCEQ officials was that they allowed us to continue to work with them to see if we can bring up the chlorine levels within that time period from the 20th to the 28th."

Mia says he'll be discussing with TCEQ that timeline, as well as a violation they found with waterline flushing into Zacate Creek. The report found that there was a reaction eating up the chlorine and there was not enough flushing of the water system.

He says they have modified their nitrification action plan and have received assistance from the TCEQ to better understand where to make improvements.

After the 30-day free chlorine conversion, Mia reports that levels are above the standard .5 required by the state.

The City of Laredo is doing their own separate investigation into the water system, but Mayor Saenz says the results will likely come in a few weeks.

Saenz says whether or not someone will be held accountable remains to be seen.

If you'd like to take a look at the TCEQ's investigation report into the water, you can visit our KGNS News app or website and click on the “extras” tab, or click here.