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Quail Creek resident has red water, few answers

Sara  Sneath By Sara Sneath

Jan. 20, 2015 at 8:36 p.m.
Updated Jan. 20, 2015 at 8:47 p.m.

Water Utility Operator Seth White turns on the fire hydrant on Golden Eye Loop in the Quail Creek neighborhood to drain water.

Water Utility Operator Seth White turns on the fire hydrant on Golden Eye Loop in the Quail Creek neighborhood to drain water.   ALEX MCDOUGALL/SPECIAL TO THE ADVOCATE for The Victoria Advocate

A rust-colored tinge has made Toni Marek, a Quail Creek resident, concerned about the quality of her water for years.

The color comes and goes, sometimes showing up multiple times a week and sometimes months go by without the discoloration.

"When you go to the toilet, it looks like someone has used it," Marek said. "I have two small boys, and I'll frequently go to the bathroom and think, 'Oh my gosh, why didn't you flush the toilet?' and then I'll realize it's not that."

The source of the red color in the water is iron, said Quail Creek Municipal Utility District manager Daniel Jimenez. The iron poses no serious health risk. And the only fix is to open up fire hydrants to flush stagnant water and sediment out of the pipes about twice a week, Jimenez said.

Sending thousands of gallons of water into a ditch while much of the state is in the middle of a drought seems short-sighted. But Tom Schmidt, the president and senior engineer of Urban Engineering, said there may not be another way to deal with the issue.

"It is a large use of water, but when you're dealing with a system that's that old, that's just part of the deal," Schmidt said.

The Quail Creek district gets its water from three wells. Jimenez said the iron comes from iron-rich soil and rock underground, where the wells pull water.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has not had any complaints about Quail Creek but has tested for iron at the water distribution's entry point five times in the past 11 years, said commission spokeswoman Andrea Morrow.

In three of the five tests, iron in the water exceeded a level set by the state for aesthetics. Basically, the water can stain sinks, toilets and showers but doesn't pose a risk to human health.

While the water carries iron, Schmidt said he would be surprised if the source of the red color in the water is the water itself, but likely a cause of sediment settling in the system's water lines and storage tank.

"But I really don't know without doing a lot of study and talking to Daniel," Schmidt said. "It can be a very complex issue."

Marek agreed that the issue is complex. She's been fighting to get answers for why her water is red for about six years.

And while she doesn't plan to move from her home, she still wants an answer.

"There is a problem," she said. "And it's not just me. It's an issue with Quail Creek."


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