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Speegleville residents concerned about high levels of chlorine in their water

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Posted at 10:50 PM, Feb 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-13 09:38:57-05

Speegleville homeowners are experiencing water woes. From showering to just running their tap water, many say the water smells of chlorine. 

The smell is so potent in some homes they have resorted to buying water bottles from the store. Residents are now concerned for their health as this has gone on for not a couple days, but almost 4 years. 

Windsor Water Public Water System supplies water to around 240 homes. Owners stated they test the water weekly for residual chlorine levels in the five water tank sites they own. Their average is 2.8 parts per million.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) states that anything below a four is normal. When homeowners use chlorine testing kits in their home, they're reading above an eight. 

"When we take a shower, the smell is on us. I can leave and go to a neighbors house or something and they'll smell it on me," said Tim Bright, a two-year homeowner in Speegleville. 

Bright thought it was just a random occurrence smelling the chlorine, then he realized he wasn't the only one. 

"We have a chat page on Facebook and all the houses in this area have high levels of chlorine," Bright said. 

Longtime homeowners said they took notice in 2014 and have contacted the TCEQ multiple times. TCEQ has been compliant - coming out and testing residence homes often. When homeowners ask Windsor Water for help, they say they aren't as helpful. 

"I have called TCEQ another time and they did come out and check it we appreciated that. Lots of neighbors have called gotten the same response," Melissa Green, a 13-year homeowner said. 

Windsor Water chose not to speak on camera but said their water is fine and safe. They said there have always been safe levels of chlorine in their water. They added that they report to TCEQ often with their water results because it is protocol for TCEQ. 

Windsor Water also stated that the homeowners can't trust their chlorine test strips because it is not an accurate representation and their equipment is more high quality and regulated to test large sources of water. When TCEQ was asked if homeowners can trust the tests, they said they could not address home water testing kits. 

Windsor Water did release this statement below regarding Windsor Water and the Speegleville community:

As of Feb. 12, the Windsor Water public water system is in compliance with all primary drinking water standards. However, in the most recent sampling, Windsor Water exceeded the secondary contaminant level of 2.0 milligrams per liter for fluoride with a result of 2.22 mg/L. Naturally occurring fluoride in drinking water may cause cosmetic effects, such as tooth discoloration. Windsor Water also exceeded the secondary contaminant level of 0.3 mg/L for iron with a result of 1.61 mg/L. Iron may cause a slight discoloration or add a metallic taste to the water but does not pose a risk to human health.

Water systems that chlorinate groundwater are required to submit quarterly reports to the TCEQ that show the number of disinfectant residuals collected each month, the highest residual, the lowest residual, and the average residual for each month. For reporting period of October, November, and December 2018, the minimum residual for Windsor Water was 0.2 milligrams per liter, and the highest was 3.0 mg/L. TCEQ’s rules require the system to maintain a chlorine residual above 0.2 mg/L, and the running annual average of monthly residuals is required to be below 4.0 mg/L.

In the last two years, nine complaints alleging water quality issues and strong or insufficient chlorine residual have been received regarding Windsor Water, and a violation was issued in October 2017 for insufficient disinfectant residual. Since that time, the TCEQ received five complaints beginning Feb. 11, 2019. All of the complainants reported drinking water with high chlorine levels. In response to these complaints, the TCEQ initiated an investigation on Feb. 12 and is conducting water sampling in the Windsor Water distribution system. The TCEQ typically conducts water sampling at representative locations throughout the distribution system. If sample results or water system operation and maintenance records document noncompliance with drinking water standards, the TCEQ addresses these issues through the agency’s enforcement process. At this time the investigation is ongoing.

The question homeowners face now is why are Windsor Water's results coming up with an average level of 2.8, and when they test at home that number is tripled. 

TCEQ did not provide chlorine level findings on their Feb. 12 testing. A homeowner stated that when TCEQ was present they said they tested 8.8 parts per million (ppm). 

The tap water samples were also taken to a reputable pool company. When the test results came back with chlorine levels at 8.63 ppm, the employee who did the testing stated he wouldn't even swim in it. 

There is an active and ongoing investigation by TCEQ. 

Additional information regarding TCEQ’s enforcement process can be viewed here.

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