City water had no bacteria despite Harvey outage
Nov. 11--Documents show the city of Victoria's water did not have bacteria despite an outage caused by Hurricane Harvey and a subsequent boil water notice.
The city reported the outage as well as the boil water notice on its Facebook page Aug. 26.
City officials said the boil water notice was issued because of a loss of pressure to the system.
Water began moving in the system again late Aug. 27, Public Works Director Donald Reese said.
His department collected samples from 10 sites from the water system Aug. 30, 20 sites Sept. 1 and 13 sites Sept. 5.
The samples were sent to B Environmental, a lab in Victoria accredited by the state to test water for bacteria.
That lab did not find total coliform or E. coli in the samples.
The Victoria County Public Health Department has a lab that tests for total coliform and E. coli in public and private water wells.
On its website, the department describes total coliform as bacteria that are found in the soil, in water that has been influenced by surface water and in human or animal waste.
E. coli is a type of fecal coliform commonly found in the intestines of warm blooded animals and humans. The presence of E. coli in water is a strong indication of recent sewage or animal waste contamination.
"Even if it comes back as being present (which it did not in this case), it doesn't necessarily mean that there's something harmful in the water. It just means that if these organisms can live in it, there's a possibility that something else can live in it as well," Reese said.
B Environmental also found the chlorine residual in the city's water system ranged from 1 to 3.8 milligrams per liter for the same dates.
Reese said the chlorine residual must be a minimum 0.5 milligrams per liter.
"We normally try to keep it around 2 (milligrams per liter) because you have some lines that are farther out in the distribution system, and they may not have as many people on those lines, so the water doesn't get turned over as fast," he said.
Reese said there were a variety of reasons the city did not collect samples of its water on the other days it was under a boil water notice.
"One is that we were informed that the labs were not ready to receive samples until Aug. 30 due to the hurricane. Also, we could not reach some of our sample sites due to downed power lines and trees," he said.
Reese added the city also did not collect samples and submit them for testing on the days the lab gave the city results from a previous test and on the days the lab was closed for business.
"And on Monday, Sept. 4, my staff was focused on other areas since we had already proven that our bacteriological samples were good and that the only thing keeping us in the boil water notice was the high turbidity," he said.
When water became clear enough to meet state standards Sept. 5, city staff collected samples of it from 13 sites from the water system. B Environmental tested those samples and did not find total coliform or E. coli.
After the city received those results from B Environmental Sept. 6, it lifted the boil water notice.
Reese said the water was initially cloudy because rain washed dirt and debris down the banks of the Guadalupe River. He said the city's off channel reservoirs, which are gravel quarries where the water settles before being pumped and treated, were inundated.
"When you're in a situation like that, where the river inundates your (off-channel reservoirs), you're kind of at the mercy of Mother Nature," Reese said.
Another way to make the water clearer is to increase a chemical going into the water at the surface water treatment plant. That chemical makes particles stick together so they can fall to the bottom.
"But even that's limited because if you start adding too much coagulation, it causes problems with the rest of your treatment. It's a balancing act," Reese said.
He said one pump that added that chemical was inadvertently turned off. Although the pump was switched back on within a few hours, he said that caused more of a delay to the city lifting the boil water notice.
In 2016, the city of Victoria's water system met or exceeded all state and federal water quality standards.
2016 Drinking Water Quality Report by Victoria Advocate on Scribd
Victoria water samples-Harvey.pdf by Victoria Advocate on Scribd
Day 1: Here comes Harvey
Day 2: Brace yourself
Day 3: 'Prayers protect us'
Day 4: 'We thought we were going to die'
Day 5: 'At least God let us live'
Day 6: 'It's the luck of the draw'
Day 7: 'Everybody will pull together'
Day 8: Guadalupe floods parts of Victoria
Day 9: Texas Zoo evacuates animals (w/video)
Day 10: The Long Road Ahead (w/video)
Day 11: Residents rely on families to rebuild
Day 12: For some, normal still far away
Day 13: Church offers refuge for devastated town
Day 14: Victims find hardship, opportunity (w/video)
Day 15: FEMA frustrates Harvey victims
Day 16: Displaced and in disarray
Day 17: Disaster for humans means catastrophe for pets
Day 18: Nature interrupted (w/video)
Day 19: 'It was like we had been bombed'
Day 20: Students returning to school feel weight of Harvey
Day 21: International Crane Foundation loses office after hurricane
Day 22: Ranching structures, cotton mostly damaged by Harvey
Day 23: Port Lavaca struggles back after Harvey
Day 24: Refugio: 'We're trying to get back to normal'
Day 25: Nonprofit leaves people lost after Harvey
Day 26: 'We are human beings like everyone else'
Day 27: Refugio schools find way to reopen
Day 28: Bloomington schools begin year in different classroom setups
Day 29: Methodist church serves those in need after hurricane
Day 30: Scientists measure damage to endangered species' habitat (w/video)
Day 31: Medical community feels impact of Harvey
Day 32: Harvey's speed leaves many in harm's way
Day 33: After Harvey, Seadrift couple forced out of home
Day 34: Bloomington Elementary School educates students in FEMA dome
Day 35: School districts share issues with state, US senator
Day 36: VISD students observe See You at the Pole
Day 37: Expectant family struggles after Harvey (w/video)
Day 38: Woodsboro pulls together after Harvey
Day 39: Housing options slim for displaced families
Day 40: SBA approves more than $500M in disaster loans
Day 41: Hunger greater in Crossroads post-Harvey
Day 42: 'Harvey broke me'
Day 44: Goliad baby born as hurricane swirled toward Crossroads
Day 45: Mother recalls 'scary' birth during Harvey
Day 46: Harvey devastates homeowners without insurance
Day 47: Officials have no details on housing relief
Day 48: Harvey impacts couple's 2 Victoria businesses, Rockport home
Day 49: Crews begin repair work on historic McFaddin church
Day 50: Hurricane, flood force Jaguars to make adjustments
Day 51: Texas Zoo thanks Vickers students for donation
Day 52: Seadrift women helping people affected by hurricane
Day 53: Mold creates big problem for homeowners
Day 54: Crossroads public agencies deal with FEMA challenges
Day 55: Special delivery
Day 56: Texas Gulf Coast mayors discuss Harvey aftermath
Day 57: Tenants sue after Harvey eviction
Day 58: Nonprofit directors face difficult fundraising decision after Harvey
Day 59: VISD applies for waivers to reduce Harvey burden
Day 60: Victoria's relief efforts lacked coordination, leadership
Day 61: Popular restaurant battles back from Harvey
Day 62: City looks to buy sprinkler controls for $160K
Day 63: Housing after Harvey (w/video)
Day 64: City looks to help with hefty water bills
Day 65: Men's shelter, soup kitchen closed because of Harvey
Day 66: Watt routes almost $1M to Crossroads' hungry
Day 67: Recovery group seeks members, community leaders
Day 68: Habitat volunteers help Harvey victims rebuild
Day 69: Lawmakers, counties to discuss Harvey response
Day 70: Oyster season opens after Harvey; new rules adopted
Day 71: Crossroads leaders talk storm damage to lawmakers
Day 72: Symphony to open concert season after Harvey delay
Day 73: Harvey recovery group works to measure unmet needs
Day 74: City considers ways to shore up water system
Day 75: County officials: Mobile homes need more oversight
Day 76: Recipient of state honor persists despite Harvey setbacks
Day 77: Heroes, lessons emerge in Harvey's wake
Day 78: Harvey, budget shortfalls challenge local leaders
Day 79: Salvation Army traditional holiday meal to continue
Where to get water, gas and other supplies
Helpful information after the storm
Updates on city services
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