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Several large canisters of chlorine solution Wednesday were awaiting their disinfecting trip throughout the Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 service area, which includes Killeen.

A prolonged boil-water notice in Killeen that shut down some thirsty small businesses and beleaguered residents for eight days now has city and water district officials in some serious hot water.

The finger pointing over who’s at fault for the lengthy loss of potable water started not long after Oct. 19, when the citywide boil-water notice in Killeen was issued.

At the Killeen City Council meeting Tuesday night — as city and state officials still scrambled to fix the ailing water system — city of Killeen Councilwoman Mellisa Brown bluntly called out the Bell County Water and Control and Improvement District No. 1 (WCID-1), the major water wholesaler for Killeen and other nearby cities.

“We’ve put hundreds of millions of dollars into WCID over the years and we receive water that doesn’t meet standards,” Brown said at the meeting. “I think for the money we pay, we deserve proactive instead of reactive measures. I think the council should relook at (the WCID) contract.”

At its regular meeting Wednesday morning, WCID-1 was telling it differently.

“It’s not our fault,” said WCID-1 General Manager Ricky Garrett of Killeen’s boil-water notice. “TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) suggests this situation could occur regardless. I don’t see how we have been neglectful on any parameter.”

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Ricky Garrett pointed out key water infrastructure to the Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 board Wednesday.

What is clear is WCID-1 and the city of Killeen have been working together in close consultation with TCEQ sometime before they began a deep clean of WCID-1’s sprawling water delivery infrastructure — with officials saying last week some residents from Belton to Copperas Cove may notice a bleach or chlorine smell in their water to help resolve Killeen’s citywide boil water notice.

Chlorine is necessary to combat microbes and harmful bacteria that may be present in water.

After a review of data from area cities, Garrett said the TCEQ optimization experts concluded that nitrification is likely occurring within parts Killeen’s water delivery system.

“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.”

Typically, the city combats nitrification by “deep cycling” tanks, increasing monitoring of their system and working with a water supplier, such as the WCID. Apparently, that wasn’t enough and Killeen reached out for some additional help from the state to help keep its water legally clean enough to drink.

“When we realized we couldn’t combat that (nitrification), we sought guidance from the TCEQ,” said Killeen’s Public Works Director Jeff Reynolds Tuesday night.

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A graphic on the water treatment process is displayed at the Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 board meeting on Wednesday.

According to Reynolds, the TCEQ was contacted early on and provided guidance as to how the city could best combat the nitrification process. So far, the TCEQ has suggested a preliminary flushing of all water in the system and to conduct a “deep cleaning” of the system using a method called “chlorine conversion,” which is a process in which “free chlorine” is utilized to kill bacteria and increase levels of chlorine to flush the system.

Surrounding cities are also undergoing chlorine conversion, abd the “deep-cycling” process will take 30 days. Killeen has not conducted such a conversion process before, officials said.

Garrett said WCID-1 has delivered good, potable water to Killeen at all times.

“We are required to deliver water that meets all their (TCEQ) standards, and we do,” Garrett told the WCID-1 board Wednesday. “They (city of Killeen) are required to continue to meet standards on the far ends of their lines. That’s not on us. We don’t get their (water testing) data, nor should we. That’s not our responsibility.”

Every one of WCID-1’s customer’s got the same water, according to Garrett.

“There’s no chance for us, whether we did want to or didn’t want to, to deliver a different water quality to one customer vs another,” Garrett said. “It’s all part of the same delivery system.”

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Rob Robinson, left, chairs Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 meeting Wednesday as General Manager Ricky Garrett, right, gives a presentation.

Sandra Blankenship, a WCID-1 board member whose district comprises a part of Killeen, said the city’s municipal water infrastructure is in need of some major updates.

“The city of Killeen’s infrastructure is antiquated and it needs to be replaced,” Blankenship said.

Rob Robinson, WCID-1’s board chair and former Harker Heights mayor took a more interdependent tone Wednesday, saying all entities will have to work together to help solve Killeen’s problem.

“I’m disappointed in the finger pointing,” Robinson said after their regular meeting Wednesday. “Our mission is to provide potable water to our customers — which we have done. The fact there’s an issue with one of our customers has been addressed. I understand citizens’ frustration, but we are all working together with the TCEQ, city of Killeen and WCID-1 to deliver safe water to our citizens. We are doing this together.”

After Wednesday’s meeting, Garrett told the Herald WCID-1’s new water treatment plant at Stillhouse Hollow Lake, which opened during the summer, had nothing to do with Killeen’s boil-water notice. Garrett said he did not have an exact number of how much water has been flushed so far from systems across Bell County, nor a dollar figure attached to such flushing, but Garrett estimated WCID-1’s system-wide capacity sits at about 38 million gallons, but that doesn’t count water pipes and tanks owned by the cities the water district serves.

WCID-1 currently charges its customers — the cities — about 0.72 cents per thousand gallons of drinking water.

Residents who do not have the ability to boil their own water may call 254-501-6315 to receive free bottled water from the city during the boil-water order.

No other local cities, including Fort Hood, have a boil-water order at this time.

(4) comments

don76550

Why only Killeen with this issue. Why not the other cities?

Ben

There is one common factor when it comes to safe drinking water. History, as shown all cities that have Democratic-controlled representatives have safe drinking water problems clean.

Alvin

Copy: 'At the Killeen City Council meeting Tuesday night — as city and state officials still scrambled to fix the ailing water system — city of Killeen Councilwoman Mellisa Brown bluntly called out the Bell County Water and Control and Improvement District No. 1 (WCID-1), the major water wholesaler for Killeen and other nearby cities.' End of copy.

Well wouldn't you just know it, the city of Killeen, in my opinion, along with Councilwoman Brown is 'wrong' in her aberration, (distortion) of the facts surrounding that have driven this city and this WCID-1 off on some wild witch hunt. She, in my opinion, and the other councilwoman, Nash, does not have any proof other than what the city of Killeen has been telling them.

Now I on the other hand have been gifted with what this local newspaper is telling me and in sifting through the statements have a fairly clear, if you can call it that,understanding of what has played out thus far.

Copy: 'What is clear is WCID-1 and the city of Killeen have been working together in close consultation with TCEQ sometime before they began a deep clean of WCID-1’s sprawling water delivery infrastructure — with officials saying last week some residents from Belton to Copperas Cove may notice a bleach or chlorine smell in their water to help resolve Killeen’s citywide boil water notice.' End of copy.

What in the world is 'Deep Clean of WCID-1's sprawling water infrastructure'. They do not have ant 'Deep cavernous pit's' that could necessitate a 'Deep Cleaning as such. Like I said previously, when I was the owner of a swimming poo in the 1980's I use to use what they call 'Shock Treatment when things got out of hand, but I have never heard of 'Deep Clean'.

Now I can say that the water samples, which I have asked for and still have not received them, I have to say that during my experience, that the water samples have not dropped this drastically, that the person who pulled these samples and the person that almost a decade ago when they stopped the chlorine injection, did so in the belief that it was no longer necessary, but that was a decade ago. Now, apparently there has been a big rush to 'get it started up again, but that I believe is a dollar short of what the real problem is,

Copy: “We’ve put hundreds of millions of dollars into WCID over the years and we receive water that doesn’t meet standards,” Brown said at the meeting. “I think for the money we pay, we deserve proactive instead of reactive measures. I think the council should relook at (the WCID) contract.” End of copy.

Yes, this is a fact, but now that we have a self generated problem, now we want to start blaming as 'the shoe is on the other foot', now we have a self generated problem so we want to blame the only one that is available, WCID-1. Well I'm want to say that 'this is a home grown problem with the city of Killeen, Texas and there is no other one to blame except Killeen, Texas.

Copy: “When we realized we couldn’t combat that (nitrification), we sought guidance from the TCEQ,” said Killeen’s Public Works Director Jeff Reynolds Tuesday night.

“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.”

Typically, the city combats nitrification by “deep cycling” tanks, increasing monitoring of their system and working with a water supplier, such as the WCID. Apparently, that wasn’t enough and Killeen reached out for some additional help from the state to help keep its water legally clean enough to drink.' End of copy.

Now this is the confusing factor to me, What is the drawing depicting 'Deep Cycling' of tankage as shown on the pictorial, how is the 'Deep Cycling' to be permitted as the only way for that to be accomplished is at the WCID-1 facility as the city has already noted that the chlorine injection facilities have been dismantled and now they have apparently pushed a work order through and are trying to get them back into service, so where does the city contend that 'the city combats nitrification by 'Deep Cycling' tanks, increasing monitoring of their system and working with their supplier'. From what I see, there is 'No working with the WCID-1.

A few days ago, this newspaper reported that 'it was after the sample treatment that was reported as below the satisfactory range according to TECQ that the first notice went out at approximately 1700 hours on October 19, 2021 and that was the time at which the ;Boil water notice was issued and we have been under this boil water notice ever since. Now when did the city of Killeen first notice that the readings were in a decline and who was it reported to as that would be crucial in developing a time line as the critical period, and when was this notice first reported to WCID-1.

This is what the should be the critical time period of the evolution of the development of 'Who is to blame for this current fiasco' and that of placing blame for the citizens of Killeen, Texas are in fact 'Blameless' and thus should not be the one who is to be blamed for this fiasco.

As noted in a previous article, the WCID-1 reported that due to the chlorine residuals diminishing it had started increasing the chlorine. Now I did not see a case for nitrification at that time, but only the recent case. It should have been brought to the attention of the upper echelon at that time so corrective action could have been taken. But needless to say, if it had been notified by all of the city's in question, and Fort Hood, would anything have been done about it.

So I would have to say that as a case for placing blame, I would say that Killeen, Texas does share the major blame in this case, about 90 to 95 percent and WCID-1 would be held liable for the remainder and that is from what I know about this case for I can't get any of the paperwork including sample results from the city of Killeen, Texas.

So what are they so secretive about that they do not want any paperwork handed out to anybody. Seems fishy to me.

guest115

I'm not sure who needs to read this, but some of y'all need to get your resumes ready.

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