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Man claims illness from Beeville water
by Gary Kent
Jun 05, 2014 | 220 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BEEVILLE – City Manager Jack Hamlett said Monday that he was told that water which failed to meet minimum standards for turbidity never made it into the city’s water system last week.

However, at least one Bee-Picayune reader complained in a letter to the editor (published today) that he suffered every one of the potential symptoms that could be caused by a level of more than 1.0 Nephelometric Turbidity Units.

The city was required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to public a notice to city residents on Friday, May 30, of the turbidity problem emanating from the George P. Morrill Water Treatment Plant at Swinney Switch.

Hamlett said he expects to receive a full and detailed report explaining what caused the problem and what steps were taken to correct it in the near future.

He said he will report on the findings to the City Council and make the report public.

According to the notice required by the TCEQ, elevated turbidity levels may interfere with the disinfection of the water and provide a medium for microbial growth.

Turbidity also may indicate the presence of disease-causing organisms to include bacteria, viruses and parasites that can result in symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea and associated headaches.

At least one city resident reported experiencing every one of those symptoms.

“I’m only now recovering from four days of being sick as the proverbial dog as a result of contaminants in the water,” John Burlage, wrote in his letter. “I’ve suffered from all the symptoms associated with contaminants in water: nausea, vomiting, pounding headaches and diarrhea.”

Katy Kiser, spokeswoman with Christus Spohn Hospital, said that a check of hospital and emergency room records showed no noticeable trend in the number of related illnesses.

Information was also requested from Twin Fountains, a walk-in clinic open this past weekend, but nothing was received by deadline.

The city’s notice stated that it was not an advisory for city utility customers to boil their water. The TCEQ’s regulations only called for a public notice to be published.

City residents were warned of the problem by emails and phone calls sent out by the city’s Blackboard Connect system.

Hamlett said the city is concerned if anyone came down with any of the symptoms mentioned in the notice.

But he reiterated he was told that none of that water made it into the distribution system.

It may be possible that the city could be forced to pay a fine to the state for the violation. But Hamlett said he had not yet been informed of that.

The City Council recently approved the payment of a $6,929 fee levied against the city that stemmed from the problems at the water treatment plant in December that resulted in city residents waking up to find that they had no water on tap.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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