Radioactivity In At Least 49 Texas Drinking Water Systems

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Published on Jun 18, 2012 by PigMine3


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June 18, 2012 - Radioactivity in some water supplies
Nearly 50 systems found to exceed federal limits

Updated: Tuesday, 05 Jul 2011, 12:35 PM CDT
Published : Thursday, 30 Jun 2011, 4:58 PM CDT

BURNET COUNTY. Texas (KXAN) - Most of us take for granted that when we turn on our water faucet, pure, clear water will come flowing out.

In Gene Braun's home in the Council Creek neighborhood in Burnet County, the water looks clear, but it's not as pure as he'd like. It's not as pure as the Environmental Protection Agency would like, either.

Braun's water is supplied by the Council Creek Village water company. It is privately owned by Jack Owen and serves slightly more than 300 people.

For years, test results for the water supplied by Council Creek Village have far exceeded the EPA safety standards for radioactive material, or what's known as radionuclides.

Reports filed with the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality show Council Creek Village water system test results range from five times to nine times the safety limit established by the EPA for radium and alpha radiation.

"We knew we had dirty water. I did know that, but I had no idea it was that bad," said Braun.

As of June 15, at least 49 out of the state's 4,728 community drinking water systems have reported radioactive material levels exceeding the state and federal regulatory limits.

Some of the water systems are located in areas served by the Hickory Aquifer.

All water companies conduct regular testing. When test results show levels higher than the limit, the water company is required to notify its customers.

All public water systems are also required to file what's called an annual Consumer Confidence Report. The TCEQ makes the reports available online.

But, the reports are not always easy to understand. Braun doesn't know the difference between a picocurie and a millirem, (types of measurements for radioactive absorption) and believes most other people wouldn't, either.

"Well, I assume that there was someone in Austin that oversaw these systems and would regulate so that it would be safe," said Braun.

Braun said he is dismayed to learn that TCEQ and the EPA have known about the excess levels for years and have done nothing more than issuing repeated violations to Council Creek Village. The violations do not come with any fine or penalties.

Elston Johnson, the manager of TCEQ's Public Drinking Water Section, said the agency prefers to handle violations in a different manner.

"Instead of issuing a penalty and having them pay that, it would be better to use that money and those resources to come up with a solution," he said.

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