BALLINGER - A recent public notice from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality showing an elevated level of a chemical in the city's water supply, raised the eyebrows of some local citizens and even a San Angelo media outlet, but city officials assure local residents that the water is safe in Ballinger.
BALLINGER - A recent public notice from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality showing an elevated level of a chemical in the city’s water supply, raised the eyebrows of some local citizens and even a San Angelo media outlet, but city officials assure local residents that the water is safe in Ballinger.
Randy Everett, the superintendent of the Ballinger Water Treatment Plant for the past 30 years and the interim city manager, said currently “Ballinger is under no violation by the TCEQ” and that “the water is safe.”
The scare started when a preview to a report by KIDY of San Angelo was posted on social media about the elevation of Trihalomethanes in Ballinger’s water supply.
According to the TCEQ, “TTHMs (Trihalomethanes) are a group of volatile organic compounds that are formed when disinfectants such as chlorine and chloramine are added to water during the treatment process and react with naturally-occurring organic matter in the water. TTHM formation is also affected by water temperature and time.”
When the TTHMs are elevated a letter is sent out by the TCEQ to every Ballinger water supply customer. The letter which customers received, states that “some customers who “drink water containing trihalomethanes in excess of the MCL over many years may experience problems with their liver, kidney or central nervous systems and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.”
In the television interview Everett was shown saying that if citizens were concerned about their water they should find alternatives or contact their local physician.
He also said there is nothing wrong with the water and added “I drink it every day.”
The most recent letter, has one paragraph that is submitted by the City of Ballinger, which indicates that the city has changed the disinfection zones and are using different chemicals to combat the elevated TTHM results.
“Our first quarter TTHM readings were in compliance with TCEQ MCL (maximum contaminant level), however, we have to have four good quarters with an average combined reading that is below the MCL of .080 parts per million before this problem is solved,” the letter stated..
According to Martha Otero a spokeswoman for the TCEQ in Austin, the City of Ballinger’s second quarter TTHM readings were in compliance. The readings are taken at Ballinger’s airport and at a location near the duck pond, Everett explained.
“The city of Ballinger is currently in compliance with TTHMs as of second quarter (April-June) 2018 because the TTHM compliance level for the LRAA is currently below 0.080 mg/L for both sample locations,” Otero said. “Second quarter TTHM samples were collected April 25, 2018, and the current LRAA compliance value has been calculated using the results of these samples. Ballinger will remain on quarterly monitoring for TTHMs as required by regulations and the next compliance samples will be collected in the third quarter of 2018 between July and September 2018.” A water supply must submit quarterly samples when a single TTHM result is above 0.080 mg/L, Otero said.
“If a public water system has a TTHM MCL violation, they are required to issue a public notice of the violation to their customers using mandatory language (including health effects) within timeframes specified by federal and state regulations,” Otero explained. “The accumulation of violations can lead to the water system being referred for formal enforcement action by TCEQ.”
Ballinger resident Monica Hagle who was interviewed for the KIDY report, said at the time she did not know there was a problem and had not seen the letter sent out by the TCEQ.
When she was shown the TCEQ letter she said “it’s scary.”
Since then, the mother of five said she has researched the city’s website where the TCEQ reports are posted and and said she is encouraged by the fact that the city is now in compliance.
“I am glad to see something is being done,” she said.
Ballinger Mayor Sam Mallory said that the city has been monitoring the issue very closely and invites all citizens to attend city council meetings, with any questions or concerns about any city services, including water. Mallory said no citizens have called to complain since the most recent letter was issued by TCEQ.
“We haven’t received one call,” Mallory said. “We invite anyone who has issues to come to a meeting.”
The City of Ballinger uses about 500,000 gallons of water per day. Seventy-five percent of that water comes from the Lake O.H. Ivie of the Colorado River Municipal Water District (CRMWD) and 25 percent is water taken from Lake Ballinger. The water is filtered at the Water Treatment Plant.
“The water that leaves this plant is safe to drink,” said Everett.