San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

INTERACTIVE: This map shows five locations in the city’s South End district where water samples taken on Sept. 4 and Sept. 8 tested positive for lead levels in excess of those allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency; tests on samples taken from a sixth location did not indicate significant lead levels. The red circles are sized according to how much the average of two tests exceeded the agency’s ‘action level’ of contamination. SOURCE: SAN ANTONIO TESTING LABORATORY REPORTS.

Update

2:23 p.m. SATURDAY, SEPT. 13: The most recent round of testing in the South End district found no detectable traces of lead in the municipal water system, said Trey Hatt, the city of San Marcos spokesperson:

Test results of the fourth round of water samples taken at six sites near the Hays County Government Center Sept. 10 show no detectable amounts of lead, and the city will continue with a sampling plan to try to determine the cause of elevated lead levels found in the water distribution system near the complex.

“While this is certainly good news, we will continue our aggressive steps and take proper measures to ensure the problem is fixed and identify why the lead was present at those levels,” City Manager Jared Miller said.

Two previous rounds of samples were taken Sept. 4 and Sept. 8. The results from these two rounds showed lead results above EPA action levels at some locations, but were inconsistent between the first and second rounds.

EPA action levels are triggers for evaluation of system water treatment process and are not violations of state or federal regulations.

The third round samples taken Sept. 10 showed test results above EPA action levels for lead at three locations. Immediately after the third round of samples were collected, city staff flushed the water service lines feeding the sites for 10 minutes and then collected a fourth round of samples, which showed no detectible lead levels at any location.

Next steps

Further sampling will be conducted at the previous test locations, and other sampling locations throughout the water distribution system will be selected for testing. The city has also asked TCEQ to conduct confirmation sampling through a third-party contractor.

The city has contracted with Alan Plummer & Associates, Inc. (APAI), who has retained an expert in water quality to assist with the investigation and planning of corrective actions. The city will further develop and expand the sampling plan to ensure system conditions are returned to normal.

Past sampling history

City water is in full compliance with state and federal regulations regarding lead in drinking water designed to ensure public health.

Past sampling data have shown no elevated lead levels in the city’s source water or readings above action levels in home sampling sites. Water chemistry tests show that the water is non-corrosive and not prone to leaching lead from plumbing.

More information

The city has opened a call center for residents who have questions about the elevated lead readings in the water samples. Call 512-393-8009 from 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

People may also call the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Water Supply Division at 512-239-4691. More information can be found online at www.sanmarcostx.gov/waterquality.

Earlier

5:43 p.m. WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 10: The San Marcos Mercury obtained documents this afternoon that indicate elevated levels of lead in the municipal water system in areas along Wonder World Drive. City spokesperson Trey Hatt released this statement at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, about an hour after the Mercury left a message with City Manager Jared Miller seeking comment for a forthcoming story.

Look for the full story soon in the San Marcos Mercury. In the meantime, here is the city’s statement:

The city of San Marcos is investigating the cause of contradictory and elevated lead readings found in five of 12 test samples in the vicinity of the Hays County Government Center.

“The water is in full compliance with state and federal regulations regarding lead in drinking water designed to ensure public health,” said Tom Taggart, Executive Director of Public Services. “However, the city is working aggressively and methodically to determine the cause of the conflicting reports and elevated lead readings in the water distribution system and take corrective measures.”

The city began a water sampling program near the Hays County Government Center in response to water quality problems experienced in the building. Tests from samples taken Sept. 4 showed lead readings in three of six samples above the EPA’s action levels.

The water system in the area was flushed on Sept. 7, and a new round of samples was taken Sept. 8. These showed two of six readings above action levels but at different locations from the initial tests. City water distribution personnel conducted third and fourth rounds of sampling Sept. 10.

EPA action levels are triggers for evaluation of system water treatment process and are not violations of state or federal regulations. The city has asked TCEQ to conduct confirmation sampling through a third-party contractor.

“Our drinking water is of the upmost importance, and we take lead concerns very seriously,” said City Manager Jared Miller. “We’re committed to identifying the source of these conflicting readings and make the proper corrections to help us continue to provide high-quality water to our customers.”

Past sampling data have shown no elevated lead levels in the city’s source water or readings above action levels in home sampling sites. Water chemistry tests show that the water is non-corrosive and not prone to leaching lead from plumbing.

The city has discussed these results with TCEQ personnel and has hired a contracting firm Alan Plummer & Associates, Inc. (APAI) to help identify possible sources of the elevated lead levels.

Additionally, the city has formed a water quality task force consisting of APAI, the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority and City staff to work on addressing the problem. The task force will determine the appropriate next steps regarding additional sampling, interpretation of the results, identification of causes, corrective actions necessary and will start the water treatment analysis as appropriate.

The city will open a call center Thursday morning at 8 a.m. for residents who have questions about the elevated lead readings in the water samples. The call center number is 512-393-8009. People can also call the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Water Supply Division at 512-239-4691.

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