Wellborn Water Violations Spark Concern with Residents

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WELLBORN, Texas - A letter from Wellborn Special Utility District informing customers of high levels of a potentially dangerous chemical in the water supply has residents on edge.

The water district has received three violations since September of 2013. The problem, elevated levels of a compound called Trihalomethane, formed when Chlorine is added to the water supply. Mostly harmless, but exposure to high levels of the compound over the course of years could cause liver, kidney even central nervous system damage.

The compound is a result of chlorine added to the water system. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality allows 80 parts per million into water systems. For six months in 2013, Wellborn Water had around 200 parts per million.

Letters were sent to residents informing them of the violations. Wellborn resident Nathan Brown said three times was not a charm.

"When I got the first letter, I was concerned, but I understand that things happen," said Brown. "But by the time I got the third, I was wondering how they could continue to make that mistake."

It was enough for Brown and his family to consider some big changes around the house.

"We've discussed getting a water filtration system for the entire house, and quite a few of our neighbors already have," said Brown.

Stephen Cast with Wellborn Special Utility District said the first violation occurred when TCEQ took readings in September of 2013, but they weren't notified by TCEQ until December. By that time, Cast said more samples had already been taken for the next quarter, and the district was found to be in violation again.

Cast said the problem was fixed by January, and the compound was down to 10 parts per million. But they managed to get another violation that same month.

The problem comes from the way TCEQ officials get their ratings. A water district is rated by the most current ratings averaged together with the past three. So even if the current ratings are good, combined with the past three, a district could still be in violation. Cast said this is what happened with Wellborn water.

Even though Cast said the water is perfectly safe now, Brown said he'd rather be safe than sorry when it comes to the quality of his water.

"Because it could happen again. And you don't know for three months after it happens that it's a problem," said Brown.

The next ratings for Wellborn Special Utility District are expected sometime in July.