Results of second water boil investigation released

Published: Feb. 3, 2020 at 10:20 PM CST
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It's been about four months since the public was triggered into a panic after a water boil notice was issued resulting from low levels of chlorine in one of its water treatment plants.

This is the second time a report into the notice is released, the first one by TCEQ wasn't well received by City Council. This time, an independent firm had the opportunity to tell the City what wasn't done right, and what could have been done better.

"When the initial boil water notice was sent out it was city-wide, if the pressure plane maps would have been available instantly, possibly it would have been limited to the geographic sections central, east, and south sections where the problems had been found by the testing."

Josh Katz, an attorney behind the independent investigation into last year's water boil notice, said such cases are common and happen often in older cities.

"Every city has this problem where there's certain parts of their distribution system hit a dead end, so you might find stagnant water there."

During his presentation to City Council, he mentioned there are several factors that could have caused the low levels of chlorine.

"Heat can be critical to chlorine, it can help to dissipate chlorine. Dead end lines are a big problem, and a reason why this might happen. That means like a water line that goes to a certain point and just stops. When there's that stopping point, that water can just kind of sit at that end. The longer that it sits, the more that chlorine might dissolve and dissipate."

The majority of recommendations by Katz included for the City to have a faster response to TCEQ, as well as making some changes to city equipment.

"No one is ever going to say this is a good thing this happened. No one wants this to ever happen, but as it has occurred I do believe that your Utilities Department has learned steps that it can and will and needs to take knowing that this could easily recur to prevent that from happening. "

During the presentation, it was recommended that the city develop an action plan that identifies areas where it's had low levels of chlorine levels in the past.

The consultant mentioned looking into an independent engineer to constantly look at water lines and tanks, but also consider technology to avoid this from happening again.

The firm also pointed out there have been about 6,000 water boil notices in Texas public water in the last 6 years.

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