Some Somerville Residents Afraid to Take a Sip Out of the Tap

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Murky water in Somerville has some residents afraid to take a sip out of their own tap.

Resident Alice Boyce says her water was shut off two nights ago without warning. When it was turned back on hours later, what she saw was a cloudy mess.

"It was very milky colored. I mean, dirty rainwater is what it looked like to me," Boyce said. This left her questioning whether the water was better off or on.

When she went to town later that afternoon, she noticed a warning posted.

"It said not to drink the water for a 24-hour period," Boyce said.

"What we have is an ancient water system here. You know, our infrastructure is kind of old. Every-once-in-a-while, it requires maintenance," Somerville Mayor Tommy Thompson said. "We have a water leak, and in order to fix it, we had to shut down the whole city."

Thompson says the city followed the state's recommendation and notified area residents to bring the water to a boil before drinking it.

However, Boyce says this isn't the first time Somerville's water has come in to question.

"They send you these brochures saying if you have any of these problems, you should consult your physician," Boyce said.

The letter Boyce shows News Three warns residents of high TTHM levels in the water that could lead to future liver or kidney problems, or even increase the risk of getting cancer if consumed over a period of time.

"Our well is four miles outside of town, and it's extremely good water. Right now, it's just the hoopla of everything else surrounding the city that has made this such a controversial subject," Thompson said.

Some of that "hoopla" includes lawsuits filed against BNSF and Koppers alleging that the plants contributed to cases of cancer in the area.

Controversy aside, officials noticed the cloudy water after they were required to switch over their water system.

"This is going to go on until we just can find the perfect mix between the ammonia and chloramine, and that will always cause a bi-product," Thompson said.

Officials with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says the water in Somerville is safe, and that the city has done all required sampling.

They add that in 2006 when elevated levels of chemicals were detected, the city fixed the problem immediately.