PONDER, Texas -- Some residents in the small town of Ponder have complained about the water quality over the last several months. Residents complained of a heavy chlorine smell, rashes, and itchiness during showers.
“There were rashes in different spots. [Her daughter] had it on her legs and was really itchy,” said Meghan Avigliano.
Avigliano first felt the rashes late last year. The town of Ponder said it was first made aware of the complaints at the beginning of the year.
“I feel it instantly. I feel it as soon as the water hits me,” Meghan said.
Ponder has six wells that draw from the Trinity Aquifer. Gary Morris, the Public Works Director of Ponder, says before that water reaches homes it is chlorine-treated.
“We immediately started checking our chlorine residuals,” said Morris.
Morris says the town even hired a third-party consultant to test the water and those results aren’t out yet. The town will reveal those results at a June town hall meeting.
“I feel like we’ve gone over and beyond what we need to do,” said Morris.
TCEQ, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, also tested the water in the Ponder area and a spokesperson tells WFAA the water system is “in compliance with drinking standards.”
This week, a group of residents reached out to CLEAR: the Collaborative Laboratory for Environmental Analysis and Remediation. The research group is affiliated with UT Arlington and is comprised of scientists and engineers. The team of researchers went to several homes and tested the water and also swabbed skin from adults who reported rashes and itchiness.
“We’re going to be screening this water samples for over 2,500 different species of bacteria,” said Dr. Zac Hildenbrand, who is a CLEAR scientist. “There may be incomplete disinfection going on where there is residual bacteria in the water that could be leading to the rashes,” he said.
Hildenbrand says he will wait for the results to come in before making a final judgment on what is causing the reactions. Residents like Lana Weides is desperate for answers.
“I’ve had kidney infection after kidney infection and every single one turned out E.coli,” she said.
The results from the researchers make take several weeks to process and analyze. For some of these residents they are hopeful there are answers that, they say, explain what they’re feeling and tasting.