Scientist Weighs in on Complaints Against North Texas Water

Just one day after the North Texas Municipal Water District assured its customers that its drinking water meets state standards and is absolutely safe, more people are raising questions.

Dr. Zacariah Hildenbrand, with the University of Texas-Arlington's Collaborative Laboratory of Environmental Analysis and Remediation, says a post by activist Erin Brockovich wasn't the first thing to alert him to concerns.

"What we believe is going on there is that these municipal water suppliers are hitting their water with a lot of chlorine, which is one way to kill bacteria," Hildenbrand said.

But similar to allegations made by Brockovich, Hildenbrand says chlorine isn't effective at killing all pathogenic bacteria. That's why they both believe too many disinfection byproducts get left behind.

In addition to a strong chlorine scent, he says the incomplete removal of that bacteria leads to gastrointestinal issues and skin irritations.

"The reason this hasn't been a bigger issue or that there hasn't been more news coverage of this is that under the current water standards, either by the state of Texas or the federal standards, you're only required to test for a certain number of bacteria," Hildenbrand said.

He says using new technology, his team has tested for that bacteria and believes its prevalent in several water supplies across the state.

"There should be concern to this," Hildenbrand said. "It really makes me wonder if chlorination protocols, especially in the United States, are actually effective against all of the microbes we're seeing in the water. We really need to dive in and see exactly what's going on here."

The North Texas Municipal Water District will join Plano City Council to discuss water testing and water quality during Tuesday's council meeting.

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