Water officials assured North Texans their water is safe Tuesday night at Plano’s city council meeting amid concerns over a chlorine like smell and taste.
The city invited the North Texas Municipal Water District to present their latest water quality test results along with information about how they treat drinking water.
The water system has been under fire since last week when environmental activist Erin Brockovich shared a Facebook post telling people that the treatment used, which involves chlorine and ammonia, can cause health concerns.
The NTMWD has denied those claims. Tuesday they shared correspondence from both the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency saying that methods used are within state and federal guidelines and completely safe. The TCEQ cited a note from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranking water chlorination and treatments as one of the top ten greatest public health achievements of the twentieth century.
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Currently the NTMWD is conducting a free chlorine burn. It’s been described as an annual routine maintenance in which NTMWD temporarily removes ammonia from its treatment process. Executive Director Tom Kula says that doesn’t mean any chlorine’s been added.
“Chlorine remains at safe levels. We test that throughout the day. Cities do as well,” said Kula.
Several people associated with a Facebook group called “Safer Water North Texas” were on hand to continue pushing for more answers. The group, which now has over 8,700 members, has been skeptical of reassurances from both water and city officials.
“Most people it’s hard for them to understand why or how the water is safe when it smells like bleach or chlorine. I’m aware of what the EPA has said, but for us we’d just like some independent testing outside of the government agencies to know that it is safe for drinking,” said Jamie Stephens who lives in Frisco.
Plano’s city council asked several questions of NTMWD officials including whether they had tested the water during the chlorine burn. Assistant Deputy Director of Water Billy George says while they typically don’t, the water was tested Thursday. Those results will be made public Wednesday.
Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere urged residents to be patient until then.
"I don't have a special pipe from the North Texas water District that provides water into my household. I drink the same water everyone else does. If there's a problem with our water we'll fix it, but please withhold judgement until the facts come out,” said LaRosiliere.
During the meeting, Brockovich posted once again, asking how water that smells like chlorine can be deemed safe. She announced she’ll hold her own meeting in Plano on April 5.