Water

A water tower is seen from Stan Schlueter Loop in Killeen.

In the weeks after Killeen’s 10-day citywide boil-water order in late October due to low levels of chlorine in the city’s drinking water, the Herald sent follow-up questions to the city about the issue. Jeffery Reynolds, Killeen executive director of Public Works, answered most of the questions below, unless otherwise noted.

Below are the questions from the Herald, and the answers provided by the city.

Herald: Why did the daily water tests in October not show the low levels of chlorine that the quarterly test showed on Oct. 19?

City: The daily water tests are taken from 60 sites throughout the City. These 60 are taken twice per month and sent to Bio Chem lab for testing. The eight quarterly are at different sites than the 60.

Please explain Killeen’s procedure for testing the drinking water. What is the process and how does it work?

City staff takes daily, monthly, and quarterly samples from sites throughout the City that are approved by the TCEQ. Before the sample is taken, the line is flushed and chlorine residuals are taken. The samples are then sent to the lab for testing. The City takes 120 routine BAC-T tests per month and varying numbers of special Bac-T tests for boil water notices and new construction sites. Bac-T tests look for e-coli, total coliform, and other harmful bacteria in the water as required by state law.

How are water testing locations chosen? Is any water tested at residential taps? Why or why not?

Water testing locations are chosen as a representative of the entire City. None of these tests are taken at residential taps because the TCEQ wants a representation of the water in the City’s distribution system, not the residential system.

What is the integrity of the tests? How can the public know they are being done properly?

The integrity of the tests is regulated and monitored by the TCEQ. The person taking the sample is a licensed operator with the TCEQ and the lab testing the sample is a National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (NELAP) accredited lab.

Did anyone on the city staff, including City Manager Kent Cagle, request the mayor or the City Council to not talk publicly about the boil-water order until it was over? If so, please explain.

No, the mayor spoke daily and openly about the order to all media outlets throughout the entire process. The mayor also conducted a press conference and we included his quotes in press releases that we distributed, as well. Additionally, he spoke publicly at the City Council meetings concerning this topic. We take note that it is always best for the subject matter experts (SMEs) to be the focus of interviews, as they have the best knowledge of the situation, which constantly changes and is updated with new information — those SMEs are the Public Works team, TCEQ and WCID.

(Janell J. Lewis Ford, Executive Director of Communications)

Prior to October, when was the last time the Killeen drinking water system was completely flushed?

Killeen’s drinking water system has not been completely flushed. Areas of the system are routinely flushed through 100 auto-flushers in conjunction with fire hydrant and dead-end flushing.

What are the dates of when the Killeen water tanks were disinfected in the last five years? Please provide the tank by location and date of disinfection?

Killeen relies upon the disinfectant in the water they receive from WCID #1 to last throughout the Killeen distribution system. At times, disinfectant levels may fall to a point where deep cycling of tanks and flushing is necessary to keep the disinfectant levels up. In December 2020, Killeen did a chlorine conversion on the two tanks at 5800 Bunny Trail.

How many boil-water notices have been issued by Killeen (by calendar year) since Jan. 1, 2018? Please include location and date for each notice.

All boil water notices are posted to our website under “News” and “Alerts,” and sent to news media as a press release. Please check our site at https://www.killeentexas.gov/civicalerts.aspx

(Janell J. Lewis Ford, Executive Director of Communications)

How much money has been spent on replacing aging water infrastructure (water pipes only) in Killeen (by calendar year) since Jan. 1, 2018?

2018 - $1.2M; 2019 - $.15M; 2020 - $1.38M; 2021 - $.7M = a total of $3.43M

The public works director mentioned employees will get new training on dealing with the city’s water system in the wake of the citywide boil notice. Is that training recommended or required by TCEQ?

Recommended

Please describe the training. Where will it be done, and how many hours will it take?

A TCEQ eight-hour training on chloramine disinfection and nitrification is being offered to WCID #1 and their customers on November the 17th and again on November the 18th. The City of Killeen will be hosting the training at one of its Public Works facilities.

How can the city be assured another citywide boil-notice like this one will not happen again?

While nothing is ever 100%, by incorporating training from the TCEQ, updating the City’s nitrification action plan, working with WCID #1 and their customers, and installing booster stations, City staff is confident that another citywide boil water notice like this one will not happen again.

The mayor called it a fluke. Does the city have another way to describe it?

This was an anomaly for the City of Killeen as it had never happened before, but the TCEQ has stated that this has happened in other water systems throughout the state.

Will the After Action Report/Plan on the issue be shared with the public? When will it be finished?

Yes, the report is expected to be completed the second week in December, as per the City’s Emergency Management Office.

Does the city have any plans to rebate businesses or residents on their water bills because of the citywide boil-water notice? If not, why?

No, water was provided to all customers for the duration of the boil water notice.

Could the city have been more transparent about the issue?

No, the City was very transparent from the moment we realized a boil water notice was necessary. We’ve distributed 13 press releases, 3 in-depth interviews with leaders, 3+ videos and photo ops for media’s use, performed a press conference with our mayor and also spoke for more than an hour during the City Council meeting, answering questions and presenting. We also conducted two straight hours of Zoom interviews with media outlets within the first, 24 hours of the notice and released full water tests results for four quarters — all over a 10-day period. We’ve also subsequently distributed another press release on Nov. 8 with updates.

(Janell J. Lewis Ford, Executive Director of Communications)

The city released the quarterly test data the first week of the boil notice, but it did not release the daily test data until after the notice was lifted on Oct. 29. Why not release the daily data earlier, such as the same time as the quarterly data?

City staff was consumed with, and focusing all efforts on, resolving the BWN issue. Data was posted upon request.

(2) comments

Alvin

Copy: 'Q and A: Killeen officials respond to questions on October’s water problems'.

Copy: 'Herald: Why did the daily water tests in October not show the low levels of chlorine that the quarterly test showed on Oct. 19?'

City staff takes daily, monthly, and quarterly samples from sites throughout the City that are approved by the TCEQ. Before the sample is taken, the line is flushed and chlorine residuals are taken. The samples are then sent to the lab for testing. The City takes 120 routine BAC-T tests per month and varying numbers of special Bac-T tests for boil water notices and new construction sites. Bac-T tests look for e-coli, total coliform, and other harmful bacteria in the water as required by state law.

Continuation of copy: 'City: The daily water tests are taken from 60 sites throughout the City. These 60 are taken twice per month and sent to Bio Chem lab for testing. The eight quarterly are at different sites than the 60.' End of copy.

If the residual chlorine test is not ran by the sample catcher, it is my opinion that any result will be faulty as time is the killing factor for obtaining a meaningful residual chlorine test result. So to say that a result will be obtained from the Bio Chem lab is negated.

Well once again this city did not answer the question directly, instead chose to answer evasively.

Now as I understand the forgoing statement, 'Each sample point will only be tested twice in a month and those samples will be sent to Bio Chem Lab for testing. As for the 'eight quarterly are at different sites than the 60' figure in I do not know or understand. But needless to say, as I understand these statements, 'the Killeen water department only collects the samples, but does no analytical testing of the water itself'. Is that a fair statement and I wish for someone in the water department to answer this question.

Copy: 'How are water testing locations chosen? Is any water tested at residential taps? Why or why not?

Water testing locations are chosen as a representative of the entire City. None of these tests are taken at residential taps because the TCEQ wants a representation of the water in the City’s distribution system, not the residential system.' End of copy.

I dare say that with Killeen, Texas being on the tail end of the line, and the length of lines that Killeen, Texas has to offer, I would think that it would be probable that Killeen, Texas would need to give some consideration to the time factor, also to be referred to as the T.I.T. ( Time in Transit) factor involved in development of film displacement in the various limits of this city's total length of pipeline.

Copy: 'Did anyone on the city staff, including City Manager Kent Cagle, request the mayor or the City Council to not talk publicly about the boil-water order until it was over? If so, please explain.

We take note that it is always best for the subject matter experts (SMEs) to be the focus of interviews, as they have the best knowledge of the situation, which constantly changes and is updated with new information — those SMEs are the Public Works team, TCEQ and WCID.' End of copy.

So from the foregoing statement, you concede that your city council 'is not' as advertised, that you can have the city council 'vote' to award a multi-million dollar water bond issue and know absolutely nothing about it. Is that a fair evaluation? So then why don't we concede this fact that 'the city council does not know anymore about this issue and let the citizens vote on such matters'.

Copy: 'Prior to October, when was the last time the Killeen drinking water system was completely flushed?

Killeen’s drinking water system has not been completely flushed. Areas of the system are routinely flushed through 100 auto-flushers in conjunction with fire hydrant and dead-end flushing.' End of copy.

What is the criteria for the city's response to 'routinely flushing through 100 auto-flushers and fire hydrant and dead end flushing'. It seems you must have a specification for determining what the criteria is for determining when it is a safe, complete, flush.

Copy: 'How much money has been spent on replacing aging water infrastructure (water pipes only) in Killeen (by calendar year) since Jan. 1, 2018?

2018 - $1.2M; 2019 - $.15M; 2020 - $1.38M; 2021 - $.7M = a total of $3.43M

The public works director mentioned employees will get new training on dealing with the city’s water system in the wake of the citywide boil notice. Is that training recommended or required by TCEQ?

Recommended

Please describe the training. Where will it be done, and how many hours will it take?

A TCEQ eight-hour training on chloramine disinfection and nitrification is being offered to WCID #1 and their customers on November the 17th and again on November the 18th. The City of Killeen will be hosting the training at one of its Public Works facilities.' End of copy.

As the total of money spent from the year 2018 until the year 2021 is $3.43 million, I seem to remember that the city council was successful in voting $22 million for the Elevated Water Storage Tank, and the majority of this money excluding the Elevated Water Storage Tank itself was for the water department, around $12 million or so, so there seems to be a disparity in funding. That is another example of why we should hold the cit council responsible for line item responsibility.

Copy: 'While nothing is ever 100%, by incorporating training from the TCEQ, updating the City’s nitrification action plan, working with WCID #1 and their customers, and installing booster stations, City staff is confident that another citywide boil water notice like this one will not happen again.' End of copy.

I offer the following:

Copy: 'However, the general understanding of biological testing and its ability to provide additional insight into the fouling potential and operational aspects of a well has, in large part, taken a back seat to coliform testing.

Even worse, misconceptions regarding the interpretations of Bac-T testing results have risen, leading to a state of confusion with suppliers, regulators, and consumers alike.

The presence of specific bacteria within our water supplies can undoubtedly pose risks to human health and have been known to do so for hundreds of years. However, bacteria can also be responsible for a number of other undesirable impacts—including foul odors, corrosion, production losses, and tarnished

aesthetic properties.

The ability to account for other species of bacteria responsible for biofouling and assess the overall biological load can be a valuable tool in extending the life of a well and preventing costly maintenance procedures. Increasing demands on produced water quality and a greater emphasis on asset management are resulting in a growing need within the industry for more accurate monitoring of water wells and the fouling mechanisms they are susceptible to.'

How does the BAC-t test affect water quality?

While Bac-T testing gives some indication of the sanitary conditions of water, it does not consider the role bacteria play in fouling outside of the context of potential health risks. In reality, bacteria have the means to influence production, materials, and water quality through a number of tactics.' By Eric Duderstadt. End of copy.

Copy: 'Does the city have any plans to rebate businesses or residents on their water bills because of the citywide boil-water notice? If not, why?

No, water was provided to all customers for the duration of the boil water notice. End of copy.

Not only did the residents of this city have to endure the inconvenience of 10 days under a biol water notice, the have had to endure the 30 days of having high chlorine concentration in the water. Also this city had to be inconvenienced by the 39 million gallon drainage of treated water and that my friends was 'not a problem of the citizens of this city but I feel was the city itself problem',

Bluestorm68

Why does my water smell like a swimming pool?? Literally, my son and I can't drink it, and showering in it is not fun either. It triggers our asthma, and causes me migraines. I literally can smell it 2 rooms away coming from the toilet. I have to go shut the lid, and then shut the bathroom door. This only started happening since you guys messed with the water system. I don't trust what is coming out of the pipes now. It's bad, and you can't tell me that that horribly high smell of chlorine is normal, or safe. That is a bunch of bull. What exactly did you do to our water??

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