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Water District releases test results from chlorine burn

The North Texas Municipal Water District services 1.7 million customers and 10 counties—including Collin, Dallas, Denton, Rockwall, and Kaufman Counties.

PLANO—The North Texas Municipal Water District has released test results involving water samples taken during chlorine maintenance that has been met with controversy.

The NTMWD services 1.7 million customers and 10 counties—including Collin, Dallas, Denton, Rockwall, and Kaufman Counties.

Complaints about the smelly water have grown online within the Facebook group “Safer Water, North Texas,” which has over 8,000 members.

Many residents say they’re experiencing burns, rashes, and that their pets won’t drink the water.

Concerns heightened when celebrity water activist Erin Brockovich, who was portrayed by Julia Roberts in a 2000 biographical film, chimed in on the discussion on her Facebook page.

The NTMWD said Tuesday at a council meeting in Plano that it uses ozone as a primary disinfectant for its water supply, and then uses chloramines (which is a combination of chlorine and ammonia) as a residual disinfectant.

Right now, the NTMWD is in the middle of a 28-day chlorine burn with its water supply. The organization is adding pure chlorine to the water as a preventative measure to protect the water system from potential contaminants.

Officials say the use of chlorine combined with flushing distribution lines helps disinfect the supply and remove organic matter.

The NTMWD says it's done this for the last 10 years, and that it’s common with hot-weather water systems.

According to documents from an EPA official and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality--the process is a safe and acceptable practice.

The TCEQ also said that the NTMWD is in compliance with regulations pertaining to disinfectant residuals.

On Wednesday--the NTMWD released test results after taking water samples during the burn.

According to a test done by a third-party lab--a sample taken from Plano had trihalomethane (THM) levels at 54 parts per billion and a sample from Forney had 71 parts per billion.

The EPA requires that THM levels must stay at 80 parts per billion or less in public water systems in order to remain safe.

Trihalomethanes may slightly increase the risk of cancer and could cause other health problems.

On Tuesday--officials with the NTMWD said that THM levels average usually around 30 parts per billion or less.

Brockovich criticized the chlorine practice on her Facebook page Tuesday.

In a post, she said, “How can a process of super chlorination... designed to kill overfed accumulated bacteria in drinking water be healthy... come on... if you believe that I have some beachfront swamp land for sale.”

“Since we can’t get the truth out of those in charge... and they refuse to take responsible actions to prevent this in the future... I am coming to Plano,” she said.

Brockovich says she will be bringing her own water expert on the trip.

Safer Water, North Texas has taken its own water samples and is talking with a lab to conduct independent tests.

The City of Plano is also doing its own independent tests and will release those results soon.