By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – In correspondence from Crockett City Administrator Sean Hutchison to Russel Bond, General Manager of WCID (Water Control and Improvement District) #1, the city administrator stated the water being purchased from the WCID #1 “… fails to meet State water quality standards.”

As a result of the failed standards, Hutchison requested a reduction in the minimum monthly amount of water required to be purchased as outlined in the Treated Water Supply Contract between Houston County WCID #1 and the City of Crockett.

The two entities came together on Wednesday, Nov. 16 to discuss the matter and see what could be done to help alleviate the situation.

Hutchison said previous discussions about a reduction in the minimum amount of water purchased from the WCID were unproductive due to certain obligations the district had to its customers.

“The Issue the city currently has is we know we are obligated to purchase a certain amount of water, but the water we are receiving – from 2013 through the third quarter (of 2016) – includes high levels of trihalomethanes (TTHMs),” Hutchison said.

The city administrator indicated he had gone back to 2010 to see what the TTHM levels were and discovered there was a spike in the levels from 2013 to the present.

Hutchison reminded the WCID the City of Crockett had been cited by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for having exceeded the maximum allowable amount of TTHMs during four consecutive quarters dating from October of 2015 until July of 2016. He said while the WCID was aware of the TCEQ citation, it might not be aware of enforcement actions taken by the TCEQ against the City of Crockett.

He explained the city had a year to comply with the directive from the official notice date of April 29, 2016 and stressed, “The District may not be aware of the fact the level of TTHMs contained in the water purchased from the WCID #1 has increased an astonishing 55.29 percent from 2013 through the third quarter of 2016. This has certainly contributed to the violations and subsequent enforcement action,” Hutchison explained.

As he continued, the city administrator said the city had taken several actions to reduce the levels of TTHMs which included blending water purchased from the WCID #1 with water from the city wells. The cost of this procedure amounted to approximately $171.80 per day or a monthly cost of $5,154.

Another issue brought forward by Hutchison concerned the amount of water required to be purchased by the city. He cited the “Take or Pay” provision under section 5.5 of the Water Contract.

“The data used in this agreement was compiled in 2012 and reflected significantly higher water usage than is currently being used today. It was based on a five year average which showed a monthly usage of 34.8 million gallons but the most recent average indicates a usage of 31.8 million gallons. The reduced usage has city water customers paying a combined amount of roughly 79,560 for water they do not consume,” he said.

After questions about the amount of water used from city wells and where testing was done were raised, both WCID Board Member Sonny Rollo and Bond indicated the water sent from the WCID to the city was compliant when it left their facility.

Hutchison replied while that may be true, the levels of TTHMs were very close to the maximum allowable amount and did not allow the city any room for an increase based on environmental factors. Bond further reported the water coming from the WCID was well within the compliance range several years ago, but understood the point Hutchison was trying to make.

Possible explanations for the increased TTHMs were discussed and included: the drought of 2011; the spraying and treatment of hydrilla in Houston County Lake; and an increased presence of zebra mussels.

No formal decisions or actions were taken on the matter but it was suggested to coordinate the testing times and dates between both the city and the WCID #1 in order to isolate the problem and come up with a solution acceptable to both entities.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.