City says water is cloudy, but safe

Marina Riker By Marina Riker

Sept. 6, 2017 at 10:15 p.m.
Updated Sept. 7, 2017 at noon

Updated at 7:00 p.m. Thursday

Water could be cloudier than normal, but it’s still safe to drink, city officials said Thursday.

During a City Council meeting, Public Works Director Donald Reese said a hiccup during the water treatment process caused particle levels in the water to rise above recommended limits. But the city won’t be asking residents to boil water because it’s still safe to drink, he said.

“It’s just another precautionary measure,” said Reese.

On Thursday, the city violated a state standard that sets rules for the amount of debris and sediment in water, which means it’s required by state law to send out an official notice.

While debris or sediment alone don’t cause health effects, they can interfere with the water treatment process, according to a city news release. Those particles in the water give microbes such as bacteria, viruses and parasites a place to grow, which can cause symptoms such as nausea, cramps and diarrhea.

However, the state said the city is meeting all other state requirements necessary to produce safe drinking water.

“The water has been treated,” Reese said. “It’s good, drinkable water.”

When Victoria floods, the city uses multiple pumps to clear dirt and sand out of water that comes from the Guadalupe River. One of those pumps was accidentally shut off, Reese said.

Fortunately, a shift supervisor caught the mistake within hours, Reese said.

“We caught that very quickly and turned that back around,” Reese said.

Also on Thursday, the City Council voted to raise the property tax rate by 1 cent over the effective tax rate – about a $26 increase for a resident who owns a home valued at $150,000, according to the city. The increase is expected to boost city revenue by about $363,000 next year, which would be used to hire new police officers, maintain parks and mow sections of land near streets.

The tax increase must be voted on again by the council before it’s enacted.

Original Story

For the first time since Hurricane Harvey slammed Victoria County, employees at La Original Tortilla Company will be able to return back to work.

"Oh my gosh, it's just like Christmas around here," said owner Marie Bazan on Wednesday, just hours after the city announced residents could stop boiling their drinking water.

Bazan had to temporarily shut down the business after Hurricane Harvey damaged the city's water system, making water unsafe to drink - and unsafe to make tortillas with. Without a water supply, she had to temporarily close the shop, she said.

"We've got over 30 people that have been out of work for that long," said Bazan. "So we are very, very excited."

Bazan is not unlike other Victoria residents who are rejoicing after the city said Wednesday residents can stop boiling water before using it for drinking or cooking. This comes after electrical problems and flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on the city's water system, forcing the city to ask residents to boil drinking water.

"We've gone through all the tests and all the process required and are glad to finally have the boil notice lifted," said city spokesman O.C. Garza.

When Hurricane Harvey slammed Victoria County almost two weeks ago, it cut off power to generators needed to pump water into the city's water towers, shutting off running water for a couple of days.

Running water returned more than a week ago, but it still wasn't considered safe for drinking.

Anytime water systems have problems, cities must go through several tests before water can be considered safe to drink, Garza said.

"We've been treating it like we normally treat our water system," said Garza. "But you have to go through all these tests."

The water problems were further complicated by flooding that dumped silt and debris into the Guadalupe River - the main source of water for the city. Garza said all of that material gets stuck in the water.

"During a flood, it's like thick," said Garza. "Thick - almost like liquid mud."

Even though water is now considered safe to drink, Garza said residents should take precautions to flush out old water from faucets and pipes.


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