Texas Water Treatment Plant Exposes Residents to Microscopic Parasite

Nov. 11, 2019

Pflugerville, Texas issued a notice regarding the city’s water treatment plant, which left residents unknowingly exposed to a parasite for nearly a year. 

The damage caused by zebra mussels in Lake Pflugerville left water customers in and around Pflugerville, Texas susceptible to a microscopic parasite, Cryptosporidium, for nearly a year, according to the Statesman.

A city notice alleges the city’s water treatment plant failed to meet minimum state standards for treating drinking water from Oct. 2018 to Sept. 2019. Dec. 2018 and Apr. 2019 are the only instances the treatment plant did meet minimum standards.

The violation, cited by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, noted damaged membranes used for water filtration at the treatment plant were not able to keep cryptosporidium from entering the city’s water system.

The parasite can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps and nausea, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Pflugerville’s water system is now in full compliance and the city was not fined for the violation due to its quick response.

The city chose to wait until November to inform customers about the violation to allow time for city staffers to understand the issue and correct it, reported the Statesman.

Industry experts were hired to analyze the treatment plant and make improvements, retraining city staff and upgrading programs.

The treatment plant provides water to city residents and two water companies, Manville Water Supply Corp. and SouthWest Water Company. SouthWest Director of Operations Gary Rose is issuing a notice to customers with information on the violation in their monthly statements, according to the Statesman.

“We share the outrage that our citizens have and will continue to hold those who knew, or should have known, accountable,” said Council Member Rudy Metayer. “They do not reflect the high degree of talent and dedication that we have throughout our city staff.”

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Cristina Tuser