Arsenic, manganese concern Wolfforth
Arsenic, manganese and fluoride have all caused problems in Wolfforth’s water, City Manager Darrell Newsom told the 10 people who attended the city’s town hall meeting Thursday evening.
“Our biggest problem right now is because of our arsenic,” Newsom said. Wolfforth officials received a letter from the federal Environmental Protection Agency in July 2011 instructing them to fix the city’s arsenic issues or face fines. He said later in the meeting that the city has until fall of 2014 to have a solution in place.
“Our arsenic level didn’t get worse,” Newsom said. Instead, the EPA changed the threshold for what is acceptable in drinking water.
Four of the five council members, several city workers and Mayor Charles Addington were available to talk to residents and answer questions. Michael Adams of OJD Engineering was also available to talk about technical issues.
The city manager gave a 15-minute presentation about Wolfforth’s water woes, showing slides to the residents depicting the city’s current water system and the cost of treating the water.
Newsom said although residents could see an additional $18 charge per water meter per month, he doesn’t know what the water itself might cost.
City Secretary Debbie Perkey said she has been paying $29.99 a month to a water service to treat water in her home.
“I’m going to actually save money over what I’ve been spending,” Perkey said of the water charges.
Adams told the residents that not only will arsenic issues be resolved, the quality of the water should be better in town. The city’s plans to tie all wells together should dilute manganese found in some wells.
“Just the blending of the wells into one location is making the overall quality better,” Adams said. Although the city had planned to spend about $100,000 to pre-filter the water before sending it into the proposed treatment center, he said it seems that might not be necessary.
“Your dishwasher should last longer,” Newsom said, adding clothes washers and ice makers to the list of appliances likely to last longer with cleaner water.
Resident Renee Witherspoon asked what would happen to the water that was cleaned and removed from the city supply — could it be used on city parks?
Newsom said no, the water will be put into the sewer. He said city officials have been considering how to treat the water for years and could never get an answer as to what to do with the wastewater.
Newsom said the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality gave the city the green light to flush wastewater down the sewers because of pressure from the EPA.
Resident Margaret Jenkins said her water fixtures are stained from manganese deposits over the years. Many of the residents at the town hall meeting seemed more concerned about manganese than arsenic.
Doug Hutcheson, Wolfforth’s public works director, said after the city completes its water treatment plant, there won’t be more manganese in the city lines.
But Newsom added that the city is considering a European treatment called “ice pigging” to remove manganese and other deposits from city lines.
Steve Komarek sought clarification about the water treatment system, asking if it would do anything in people’s homes who have existing issues with manganese.
“It won’t fix the problem in the house,” Newsom said, because that manganese is already there.
Adams said residents will see better quality water lines in 10 years. Cleaning out the water lines will also help, he said.
Tim Carter asked if anyone else in Texas is using the electrodialysis reversal system for water treatment.
Newsom said Wolfforth would be the first to use it in Texas, but talked about going to Foss, Okla., where he said the lake water treated there looked like chocolate milk prior to being treated with electrodialysis reversal, or EDR.
“They’re really happy with their results,” he said. “It’s worked well for them, and their water is a lot nastier than ours.”
Adams said the reason there are no EDR systems in Texas is that TCEQ considers it to be “innovative and alternative,” even though it has been used throughout the rest of the U.S. and the world for 25 years.
Adams said he believes it is ideal for West Texas in treating its water because it wastes less water than reverse osmosis.
“It’s just one of those things you start looking at it and say, ‘Why isn’t this here?’ ” Adams said.
The mayor said other issues before the city could also be done at the same time to increase the amount of water the city has available.
“We have up to about 2 million capacity right now,” Addington said of the city’s daily water supply. “That gives you some feeling of comfort. And it shouldn’t.”
Wolfforth residents currently use an average of 600,000 gallons daily, Hutcheson said, with usage peaking at 1 million gallons a day several times in the summer.
Addington said that supply is shrinking and the city can’t guarantee the wells will continue to put out that much. The city has options, he said, to increase the amount of water available to it. Those include tying into city-owned wells near Ropesville, buying water from Blaus Wasser and building a valve to connect into Lubbock’s supply if needed.
But the mayor said he also wants residents to start becoming more conscientious about their use of water in Wolfforth.
Addington also requested that the residents direct people to the city if they hear of others who have questions about Wolfforth’s water plans.
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