During its Jan. 7 meeting, the board discussed the possibility of mailing out notifications to residents or calling a town hall meeting to inform the residents of the test results.
The board unanimously approved a motion to gather an information packet from the Environmental Protection Agency and discuss the issue further at its Jan. 21 meeting.
High arsenic levels have been detected in wells in the southern part of the county after testing was conducted by the GCGCD and Uranium Energy Corp.
According to the GCGCD, the arsenic levels do not meet EPA standards, but the EPA has no jurisdiction over private water wells, leaving the responsibility to monitoring the wells and the water quality to property owners.
A number of wells in adjacent Refugio County have also been found to have high levels of arsenic.
“Arsenic is carcinogenic,” GCGCD President Art Dohmann said during the Jan. 7 meeting. “It’s not a big enough dose to kill you immediately, but it is going to affect you over time.”
Dohmann said before the GCGCD issues warnings to residents in the southern part of Goliad County, the GCGCD should be prepared for the public reaction.
“We have discussed the fact that we need to make them aware of it, but it’s really the methodology of making them aware and, probably, answering the questions they’re going to have,” Dohmann said.
“We’re going to have to have some answers for them,” board member John Duke said. “We just can’t put this out and have no answers.”
GCGCD Secretary/Treasurer Barbara Smith suggested residents be given information from the EPA on how to address the problem.
“My personal opinion is that the answers that we have are whatever comes from the EPA and what they say is how to treat this and how to deal with it,” Smith said. “That’s all we have.
“We have lots of things that we can find, but I’m not comfortable passing that sort of information along. They have access to the Internet just like I do and if they want to find something else, they can do that. But if we’re going to use the EPA standards, I think we use the information that came from the EPA.”
The GCGCD also decided to review its policy manual concerning releasing public information.
“For one thing, I don’t think we should disseminate any more public information to a source that can be verified as far as arsenic levels and what have you,” board member Raulie Erwin said. “Unless people come in and request to see a file, I don’t fell we should open it up to them. Certainly, a landowner can see their own records. Anyone wanting to see someone else’s records should have a reason for it.”