BOIL WATER GRAPHIC

Update: City officials will provide an update on Killeen's drinking water situation during Tuesday's Killeen City Council meeting at City Hall, 101 N. College St. The meeting begins at 5 p.m.

Residents are invited to the City Council meeting where the water issue is on the agenda for discussion. Residents can also speak during the meeting during the "Citizens Comments" portion, which is near the beginning of the meeting. The city update on the water issue follows the citizen comment period.

For those unable to attend, the meeting can be viewed online at livestream: http://www.killeentexas.gov/281/Council-Live-Streaming.


A citywide boil-order was still in effect Monday, nearly a week after water officials discovered low chlorine levels in Killeen’s drinking water. And there’s still no word on when it might be lifted.

City, state and water district officials were still working Monday to identify the problem and flush the city’s water infrastructure in an effort meet state standards and end the boil-water order, which is impacting nearly all Killeen homes, schools and businesses — anyone who gets a Killeen water bill or taps into the city’s drinking water system.

The water is safe to bath with as long as it is not consumed, city officials said. It should be boiled for at least two minutes prior to drinking to kill any potential bacteria in the water. A small amount of chlorine is typically added to drinking water by water treatment plants in order to kill bacteria that may be harmful.

It’s unclear why testing last Tuesday showed low chlorine levels in Killeen’s water supply. A boil-water order has been in place since. The order can’t be lifted until the levels are good and at least 24 hours of testing show the water is sustaining a good level of chlorine residuals.

Killeen’s Executive Director of Public Works Jeffery Reynolds mentioned those “residuals” in a video update to the public Monday afternoon on the city’s YouTube channel.

“We’ve seen the residuals coming in from WCID at all of our tank locations where we take in the water,” Reynolds said. “The residuals are going up to a reasonable rate. We’re beginning to push that water out to the system. You’re going to see guys out flushing, our Public Works staff will be flushing hydrants and pulling samples. As soon as we can get this boil water notice lifted, after testing is done, we will do so, but we will only do that when we know that the water is safe.”

State officials with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality have been working with Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 (WCID-1), Killeen officials and surrounding cities throughout the weekend on a chlorine conversion in the WCID water system. TCEQ officials were still on site Monday offering assistance with the process.

Officials are hoping a different chlorine formula and flushing the system will fix the problem.

Adding to the mystery is the fact that WCID-1 treats the drinking water for Killeen and several other cities from the same water plant, but only Killeen is under a boil-water order.

In Monday’s news release, city officials pointed out: “The water system issues are not isolated to the City of Killeen, as WCID provides wholesale water service to the cities of Belton, Copperas Cove, Killeen, Harker Heights, Nolanville and the Fort Hood Military Reservation.”

However, only Killeen’s chlorine levels reached an amount low enough to induce a boil-water notice.

WCID-1 officials have said the water samples at their treatment plants — at lakes Belton and Stillhouse Hollow — have been fine.

Copperas Cove city officials sent a news release Monday, reporting the chlorine conversion process is now being seen there, and chlorine levels are staying normal.

“The City of Copperas Cove’s water system is beginning to see signs of Bell County WCID #1’s Free Chlorine Conversion based on frequent tests of the water to determine chlorine levels,” the release said. “As necessary to speed up the conversion process, City crews will be flushing water from storage tanks and system lines throughout town for the foreseeable future. Please note that this is normal activity and is necessary to minimize the length of time that City customers will experience the aesthetic effects (odor, taste and possible discoloration of water) associated with the conversion.”

In Killeen, city “crews worked 24/7 this past weekend and we are awaiting TCEQ guidance on how to proceed,” Killeen’s news release said. “TCEQ had hoped to provide a better timeline by the end of (Monday), although the four-person team does not have all information needed yet, so the City is on standby. This is an intricate system and process, therefore the team wants to have all data before releasing targeted dates and times.”

Frustrations

Meanwhile, online at least, frustrations have boiled over as Killeen residents questioned how and why this happened.

“Regardless if we are still using the water for everything but consumption, it’s still a big inconvenience! If its not 100% functional then we shouldn’t have to pay 100% of the bill. And this happens way too often. Get it together city of Killeen!,” Karen Fay wrote on the city’s Facebook page on Sunday.

Killeen water bills are in the crosshairs for many residents after they noticed an increase on their bills this month due annual increases in the water and sewer rate, and to street maintenance fees that are collected on the monthly water bills.

Earlier this year, the Killeen City Council voted to increase street maintenance fees from $1.70 to $10 per month in an effort to provide more money to repair city roads in Killeen. The City Council also approved a measure to increase the water and sewer rate, as well as commercial solid waste rates for the 2022 fiscal year. The increase in fees and rates began Oct. 1.

“The city doesn’t do their basic jobs, but requests us to pay even more for our suffering that they caused. Time to think,” Misong Thompson said on the city’s Facebook page Sunday. 

Some residents, like Myria Myria, thanked officials for providing daily updates.

“Thank Yall for the Update,” she said after Monday’s update on the city’s Facebook.

But most comments seem to grow increasingly frustrated at the situation.

“Lost faith in Killeen leadership,” Rhonda Robertson said on the city’s Facebook page.

Some businesses — and their employees — have been hit especially hard. The Herald has seen at least two — Dutch Bros. Coffee on Stan Schlueter Loop and Sonic Drive-in on South W.S. Young Drive — temporarily close down. Both had posted signs they closed because of the boil-water order. After a call to Dutch Bros. Monday, the company — which specializes in cold coffee and other drinks — said it can’t open the Killeen location until the boil-water order is lifted.

Countless other restaurants have posted signs that say they have limited drink items available because of it.

“Do we have an estimate yet on when we can drink the water again? We have lots of local businesses shutting down,” Chris Colvin said the city’s Facebook page Monday.

No one seems to know the answer.

Guidelines

“The City of Killeen issued the city-wide BWN (boil-water notice) after our daily and quarterly testing found chlorine residuals below TCEQ guidelines in certain samples. Monthly testing also occurs regularly,” according to the city’s news release Monday. “Once the recent samples are sent to a lab, the 24-hour testing will begin. Per State law, the BWN notice cannot be lifted until the lab finds the samples acceptable.”

For general federal guidelines on how residents should handle boil-water advisories, city officials referred to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s site: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/emergency/drinking/drinking-water-advisories/boil-water-advisory.html

“As we enter into the sixth day of the boil water notice, please be reminded that the health and safety of our citizens is always a priority,” according to the city on Monday.

The city is offering bottled water for those who do not have the ability to boil their own water. “Please contact us at (254) 501-6315 for assistance. Please know all ten digits must be dialed,” according to the release. “The Killeen Fire Department has fulfilled all verified requests for bottled water, delivering more than 30 cases to residents, as well as a Water Buffalo with potable water to the Killeen Animal Shelter for pets.”

Residents are invited the City Council meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall where the water issue is on the agenda for discussion. For those unable to attend, please watch our weekly livestream: http://www.killeentexas.gov/281/Council-Live-Streaming.

jbrooks@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7468

(4) comments

Alvin

@Fred44: I'm not sure as the information as provided is sketchy at the best. But as to your oily sheen to it, it could be the result of the biofilm that is the result of the free Chlorine that is being injected to counter the Nitrification resulting in depleted disinfection levels which I think are the result of 'High levels of nitrate in drinking water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can be dangerous to health, especially for the elderly, infants, and pregnant women.'

So boiling a big pot of water just to see a film on it could be the result of the biofilm which I understand will be present during this process.

But you will not be saving yourself any money as the water will still be flowing from Lake Belton and you will still be charged by WCID-1 and have the water transported by the city of Killeen water supply organization and you will still be charged the $10.00/month/water meter and the $0.50/month/water meter and all of the other adders that comes with your supply being from the Killeen water department regardless of whether or not you invest in a reverse osmosis system. It's one of 'Da*med if you do and Da*med if you don't scenario's. It's good to see that you are trying different methods in your search for 'what's the best course of action for you and your family and not just listening to the mayor because he has no idea of what's wrong ad how to correct it I'm sorry to say, but that is only my persnsl opinion of the Mayor.

fred44

I just boiled a big pot of water. When the water came out of the tap it had an oily sheen to it. And refilled it again, but this time using one of those Pur filters. Sheen still there but less. Boiled it for a good 10 minutes. Still has that nasty sheen to it. Not convinced that boiling is getting rid of whatever is in that water. I think I will invest in a reverse osmosis system. I don't think I can trust city water ever again.

Alvin

This article appears to be the same without any significant changes

Copy: 'As citywide boil-water order still in effect for Killeen, some residents questioning higher water bills'.

Now that is a real good question, why is the city of Killeen, Texas going to charge us for all of the water that is unsuitable for consumption, and is even giving us the extra burden of 'having to boil our water, which is more of a burden as to use a source of energy, IE: Electric or Natural Gas is indeed an extra burden as we expect our city which charges us an Arm and a leg to provide us with a consumable source of good, clean, consumable water, which we are bot getting at the present time.

Copy: 'City, state and water district officials were still working Monday to identify the problem and flush the city’s water infrastructure in an effort meet state standards and end the boil-water order'. End of copy.

Now I thought that this problem had already been identified.

Copy: 'In a news release Thursday afternoon, Bell County Water Improvement and Control District No. 1 General Manager Ricky Garrett said the entity will temporarily convert the disinfectant in its water treatment process from chloramines to ‘free chlorine’ beginning Thursday following the advice of state officials.'

Continuation of copy: 'WCID’s disinfection process change is due to low chlorine levels in Killeen’s water supply, which was detected earlier this week, causing a citywide boil-water notice that went into effect Tuesday evening, and was still in effect as of late Thursday. No other cities, including Fort Hood, have a boil-water order at this time.

The disinfectant conversion, from the combination of ammonia and chlorine to just “free chlorine,” Garrett said, will last until Nov. 22.'

Continuation of copy: 'After a review of data from area cities, Garrett said the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality “optimization experts” concluded that “nitrification” is likely occurring within parts of the system, particularly in Killeen.

“Nitrification is a biological action that results in depleted disinfection levels if not addressed,” Garrett said. “Bacteria that cause nitrification are not harmful, but the depleted disinfectant residuals leave the system vulnerable for other types of bacteria that could be harmful.”

Continuation of copy: '“During this period, you may experience taste and odor changes associated with the type of temporary disinfectant conversion,” according to the news release.'

Continuation of copy: 'TCEQ experts advised WCID-1 to begin using only chlorine as the treatment disinfectant rather than the chlorine-ammonia combination currently in place, WCID-1 officials said.

“To facilitate recovery of our entire system, WCID 1 is compelled to take this step,” Garrett said. “Each customer should view this as an opportunity for a ‘deep cleaning.’ By deep cycling the tanks and strategically flushing to move the free chlorine water throughout the system, any biofilm that may be present will be addressed.”

The WCID-1 general manager said he’s experienced this kind of disinfectant conversion before during his time working for the city of Waco’s water department, and that he’s confident the water system will be able to revert back to normal disinfectant processes after the month is over.

The WCID-1 general manager said he’s experienced this kind of disinfectant conversion before during his time working for the city of Waco’s water department, and that he’s confident the water system will be able to revert back to normal disinfectant processes after the month is over.

“Hopefully, it’ll be years and years before this kind of thing (disinfectant conversion) is necessary again, especially in the way this came up,” he said. “It happened so quickly, no one was able to have much notice.” End of copy.

So have we identified the culprit as of one being; 'By deep cycling the tanks and strategically flushing to move the free chlorine water throughout the system, any biofilm that may be present will be addressed.” And in turn, '“Nitrification is a biological action that results in depleted disinfection levels if not addressed,” Garrett said. “Bacteria that cause nitrification are not harmful, but the depleted disinfectant residuals leave the system vulnerable for other types of bacteria that could be harmful.” End of copy.

Now have we addressed the problem sufficiently to say that 'This was the source of our problem, 'Nitrification is a biological action that results in depleted disinfection levels if not addressed' and the 'Texas Commission on Environmental Quality “optimization experts” concluded that “nitrification” is likely occurring within parts of the system, particularly in Killeen'.

Copy: 'TCEQ experts advised WCID-1 to begin using only chlorine as the treatment disinfectant rather than the chlorine-ammonia combination currently in place, WCID-1 officials said.

Copy: 'It was still not clear on Thursday why Killeen’s chlorine levels were low while the water district’s — and other cities it serves — were not.' End of copy.

I thought that this question had been resolved, that it was a combination of the 'disinfectant conversion from chloramines (chlorine and ammonia) to free chlorine to maintain the system and water quality' and 'Nitrification is a biological action that results in depleted disinfection levels if not addressed'. Is this not a true statement by which this has been discussed, in length, by the WCID-1, the TECQ, and the State Water Board in length.

Copy: 'The distance from WCID-1’s water delivery point to some of Killeen’s water infrastructure may be the reason for the decline in state-mandated chlorine residual, which led to the boil-water notice, Garrett said.

Miles of water pipes also run from the water district’s treatment plant on Belton Lake to Copperas Cove, but Copperas Cove officials add a “chlorine booster” before the drinking water gets to that city, according to Garrett.' End of copy.

So this then is another indication that the 'chloramines (chlorine and ammonia) to free chlorine to maintain the system and water quality' and 'Nitrification is a biological action that results in depleted disinfection levels if not addressed' is also a culprit in what happened.

Copy: “Cove booster chlorinates at what we call Station 6 at Fort Hood Street where they take delivery from us to their system,” he said Thursday. “They’re booster chlorinating at that point because it’s such a long distance. Killeen has miles and miles of more lines and infrastructure than any of the other entities, and that adds complexities.”

Copy: 'According to the Environmental Protection Agency, nitrification, as TCEQ cited to be a factor at WCID-1, is a biological process that converts ammonia to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate.

High levels of nitrate in drinking water, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can be dangerous to health, especially for the elderly, infants, and pregnant women.'

Continuation of copy: 'All Killeen residents are advised, per TCEQ and city officials, to boil their water prior to consumption (e.g. washing hands/face, brushing teeth, drinking, etc.).

“Children, seniors, and persons with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to harmful bacteria, and all affected customers should follow these directions,” the TCEQ boil-water notice states.' End of copy.

If after a week, this is not concluded, for it was broadcast that it was first noticed on October 19, 2021 and it is now October 25, 2021, so tomorrow will be the completion of one week that our water supply service has been in a state of turmoil.

It is now forecast that the free chlorine treatment will last until November 26, 2021 if I remember correctly.

So when this drama end? When will the city of Killeen, Texas come out and say something productive.

I have not addressed the question of water bill reimbursement.

normadealcala

I agree. Why do residents have to pay for the City's mistakes? I have given up on the City's leadership a long time ago.

The leadership never considers the impact it will have on businesses nor the ill. This is ridiculous

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