In the news

Environment Texas
Killeen Daily Herald
Nealie Sanchez

The recently released annual water quality reports show four area public water systems had violations of drinking water standards. 

The violations range from reporting errors to an excess of monitored contaminants, according to state reports released at the end of June to educate consumers about their drinking water.

The Environmental Protection Agency sets the maximum levels for various monitored contaminants including but not limited to barium, fluoride, nitrate, various synthetic contaminants, radionuclides, turbidity, various disinfectants, various disinfection by-products, lead and copper.

These annual reports detail important information that consumers should know about their drinking water, but have been criticized because the format of the information can be hard to read.

Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas, a state environmental group, said reports are helpful but not easy enough for a lay person to decipher.

“Is this normal or do I need to be alarmed? I think without doing some heavy research, which a lot of people don’t have the time to do, that’s hard to understand,” Metzger said.

The annual water quality reports should have a more clear rating system in order for consumers to understand the quality of their water, he said.

“I don’t see why we can’t just have a similar kind of rating system like you can find on Yelp or other things. We’re used to being able to evaluate very easily and clearly whether it’s movies or restaurants by clear rating systems,” Metzger said. “That just isn’t present for our water quality, which is, of course, an important thing that we should have this information for.”

Another challenge for consumers is access to TCEQ records of public water systems violations, which are not readily available to the public.

Public water systems are given points for violations based on the offense. Public water systems with a score greater than or equal to 11 points will require the TCEQ to take formal enforcement action, according to TCEQ spokesman Andrew Keese. The TCEQ uses an internal point system to track public water system offenses. It’s not on the TCEQ website for the public.

“That wouldn’t really make much sense to them,” Keese said Thursday. “That may just be something that we keep on our side to make sure that the water systems are doing what they’re supposed to be doing.”

The numbers released to the Herald by the TCEQ show that city of Harker Heights, city of Belton, city of Copperas Cove, Bell County WCID 1, Bell County WCID 3, Kempner Water Supply Corporation, city of Gatesville and city of Lampasas have zero points against them.