A letter from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent Dec. 27, 2013 confirmed this information and Lott said it has been a challenge for himself and other city workers to reach their goal of making Runge’s water safer to drink.
Lott was re-elected to the position of mayor in May after spending one term out of office. Cecil Franke narrowly defeated Lott in the May 2011 election 106-101.
Franke then served as mayor from June 2011 through June 2013. After his two-year term, Franke did not file for re-election in 2013 and Lott won the election to return to the office of Mayor of Runge.
Shortly after returning to office, Lott said he received a letter from the EPA advising him that the city’s water system was now under their control due to unacceptably high arsenic levels in the city’s water system.
Lott said one of the reasons the arsenic levels had climbed was because the city’s water system was losing 500,000 gallons per day, due to leaks in the system.
These leaks had continued for about a year and a half, Lott explained.
“We got that under control,” Lott said.
Once that was done, a plan was put together to reduce the flow from one of the city’s three wells that had higher arsenic levels than the other two.
Runge installed an arsenic treatment plant four years ago, Lott explained, but when he left office, so did the city’s water system superintendent and as a result, there was no one at the city to maintain and operate the plant. As a result, the plant was not operational for two full years, Lott explained, during the time he was not in office.
Lott said the combination of the systemwide leaks and the fact that the arsenic treatment plant was not functioning, caused the arsenic levels in the water to rise to unacceptable levels, prompting the intervention of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the EPA.
Lott said the city is now pumping around 190,000 gallons per day, which is the normal volume for Runge.
“It has been a team effort,” Lott said describing the effort to bring the arsenic levels down.
The maximum acceptable level is currently 0.01 parts per million (PPM), and thanks to efforts over the past six months, the level has been reduced to 0.001 PPM, which is a very low level of arsenic, Lott explained and well within the acceptable levels.
There are other issues that the city is tackling, including issues with the city’s sewer system, but the city is working hard to resolve the issues, Lott said.
“The past administration just ignored the facts, and you can’t,” Lott said. “I just want the people to know that we are going through a transition period.”
The situation never required Runge residents to stop using the water, or to even boil the water before drinking, Lott said, but it was becoming a serious health risk for the people of Runge.
“I applaud the city team for effectively implementing and following our ‘get well’ water plan,” Lott said. “We will continue to strive to improve, serve and protect our number one natural resource – water.”