Water flush

The city of Killeen was seen flushing a fire hydrant outside an elevated storage tank on 6520 Cleark Creek Road Friday morning as residents citywide remain on a boil-water notice Friday.

A citywide boil-order was still in effect Monday, nearly a week after water officials discovered low chlorine levels in Killeen’s drinking water.

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 Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 “has shifted its water chlorine conversion focus from the City of Killeen’s five elevated storage tanks (ESTs), to points further out in the distribution system,” city officials said in an updated news release at 11:30 a.m. Monday. “Flushing and sampling at this site will continue today amid a boil water notice (BWN) that was issued by the City of Killeen on Oct. 19.”

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 added to drinking water in order to kill bacteria that may be harmful.

State officials with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality have been working with 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.

“The City’s crews worked 24/7 this past weekend and we are awaiting TCEQ guidance on how to proceed,” the news release said. “TCEQ had hoped to provide a better timeline by the end of today, 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.”

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 were in the crosshairs for many residents last weekend 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 — Ducth 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.

Water

Dutch Bros Coffee, 1109 W. Stan Schlueter Loop in Killeen, was closed Thursday citing the citywide boil-water notice as a reason for its closure. Killeen remains under a citywide boil-water notice Monday.

Countless other restaurants have posted signs that 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.

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.

Water

H-E-B, 2511 Trimmier Road in Killeen, had product limit signs posted Wednesday morning reminding shoppers of a temporary limit of 2 cases of water per customer as Killeen continues to be under a citywide boil-water notice.

“WCID is implementing a temporary disinfectant conversion from chloramines (chlorine and ammonia) to free chlorine to maintain the system and water quality — a process they say will continue through Nov. 21. During this time, customers in all areas may experience taste and odor changes associated with temporary disinfectant conversion,” according to city’s the news release. “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. 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. “A video interview with updates from the Department of Public Works will be available this afternoon on our City of Killeen YouTube channel and social media platforms for citizens to view.”

Residents are invited to Tuesday’s City Council meeting at 5 p.m. 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

Locations

(4) comments

don76550

Charging higher rates for less service. See you at election time

Alvin

This is my personal opinion. Because Killeen as a city isn't fair at all for if you look and see, the city Charter is written as it gives to the city all of the power and reduces the amount of power that you, the citizen are supposed to be receiving. The city council is a ran as a Monarchy in that the city council of 7 with a simple majority of 4 can and will reign supreme. You, the citizen are in the inferior position. So you the citizen have no rights except you the citizen can when you go to the poll, 'vote them out of office and stop this proliferation of office. This is the end of my personal opinion.

Butterfly Lady

[angry] why do we have to pay extra fees on our water bill for something that isn't our fault. This is not fair at all, The city of Killeen need to be ashamed of themselves. Always talking about fixing these raggedy streets, But I don't see no improvement. This is very frustrating, and annoying. Get it together Killeen

Alvin

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.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.