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Yes, our water is safe to drink! However, the EPA is concerned about the potential of increasing cancer risks through drinking water with elevated levels of radionuclides over a lifetime, which is why we are working to reduce radionuclide levels in our drinking water.
Radionuclides are naturally occurring radioactive materials found underground - not related in any way to nuclear power plants or nuclear weapons.
The lowest measurable level for Combined Radium was 5 pCi/L in 1976. By 1991, studies showed that a more appropriate limit might be 20-30 pCi/L (in which case the city would be in compliance). Unfortunately, the EPA's Safe Drinking Water Rule has a "non-backsliding" clause, which restricts the EPA's ability to "relax" limits once established.
We can treat the groundwater directly to reduce radionuclides, we can blend with a low radionuclide level supply, or replace the groundwater supply altogether.
The city's surface water supply cannot replace the groundwater supply on a continual basis.
The city has developed additional wells, allowing the city to focus on using wells with the lowest radionuclide levels to meet daily water demands. The city previously completed a blending project, but it was ultimately unsuccessful.
The city hired eHT to determine appropriate improvements to regain compliance.
The process design for treatment, storage, and transmission improvements are complete. We are in the final stages of finalizing structural and electrical component design.
The city is eligible for up to 85% grant in this project, at a savings of over $9 million.
Start of construction is delayed due to waiting for Economically Distressed Areas Program (EDAP) funding from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB). Telease of EDAP funding was delayed by the Texas Legislature during the 2017 legislative session.
Radionuclides can "drop out" of water when scale forms on the surface of pipes. Similar to concerns in the media regarding lead and copper exposure, one critical method to protect water quality is to ensure that the drinking water produced is "slightly scale forming" to always maintain a protective layer on the surface of the piping. This approach will prevent radionuclides from re-entering the drinking water until sufficient funds are available to replace water piping.