The warning was issued because of a "high level of turbidity going into the clear well." The recent rain that filled Lake Corpus Christi has essentially cleansed the water supply, causing a change in the water quality.
Lenz said the water treatment plant at Swinney Switch has been treating dirty river water for so long, that the clean rainwater has caused the dirty water treatment to be ineffective.
“We got a lot of water in the Three Rivers area that trickled down to Lake Corpus Christi, causing the water levels to rise and changing the quality of the water,” he explained. “The treatment we use is to clean dirty water, so when the rain changed the water quality, the chemicals in the treatment had nothing to grab onto.”
Lenz said that clean water is more complicated to treat than dirty water.
The water treatment plant at Swinney Switch is performing tests on the water to determine the correct dosage of chemicals for treatment. A line of glass jars in the test room held water that was near-clear, something Lenz said was very unusual. “We do jar testing every week,” he said, “and the color of the water before we treat it is usually the color of coffee, so the color we’re seeing now is out of the ordinary.”
Lenz went on to explain the water treatment process. “We use aluminum sulfate, which is a sticky, slimy substance that grabs a hold of chemicals and forms a floc, which looks similar to a white flower,” he explained. “The floc gets heavy and settles out, then we can check its formation, as well as the PH levels of the water and other things, to see if the dosage of chemicals is correct.”
While Lentz said he expects the boil notice to be in effect for several days, “We’ll be a little limited for a few days,” Interim City Manager Marvin Townsend said the issue “should be cleared up faster than that.”
Lenz assured that this is a common issue, and the alert was sent out as more of a precaution than anything else. “Once the water levels go down the treatment will work again, he said. “This happens everywhere; we notify the public as a safety and health precaution.”
Lindsey Shaffer is the regional editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 119, or at regional@mySouTex.com.