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OPINION

Lone Star State Failing on Water Cleanliness

texas lack of water etc.

Dried up river bed. Stone desert, remainder of flowering plants - xerophytes, desert landscape. Texas - Big Bend National Park. (Oleg Kovtun/Dreamstime.com)

Seth Denson By Thursday, 10 August 2023 04:34 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

This writer is a lifelong Texan.

He takes great pride in identifying as such (as do many that call the Lone Star State home).

Our way of life is independent. Our natural resources, commitment to freedom and humankind, as well as our iconic sports teams are just some of the things that make Texas so great.

"Texas Pride," "Don’t Mess with Texas," and yes even "How ‘bout them Cowboys," are frequent rallying cries.

Along with world history and U.S. history, Texas history is also a subject taught in our schools. Many, in and out of our great state, are  discovering what we have always known.

Texas has boomed, gaining an additional five million citizens in the last decade; over 1,360 new Texans per day.

Such growth brings opportunity and problems.

For example, Texas infrastructure, while vast, has not kept up.

Increased traffic and congestion, overcrowded schools, lack of available homes, and a decapitating power grid have left politicians scrambling for excuses and solutions.

Americans take much for granted. Water tops that list.

Essential to life, when we turn on our faucets, we should have an unwavering confidence that only clean water will flow.

For many of us, however, clean, pure, consumable water is becoming increasingly inaccessible — daily. 

North Texas has communities running along the Oklahoma border split by the Red River.

In this part of Texas, water is curated and supplied by the Red River Water Authority, subject to state and federal oversight. 

In north Texas, more than 600 miles of the Red River runs, separating the Lone Star State from neighboring Oklahoma.

The communities along the Red River are populated with primarily working-class white and blue collar labor.

Thus, family and friendship ties run deep as do commitments to civic duty, the United States, and of course Texas — past and present.

Many of these communities access water through the Red River Authority.

It was established in 1959 to provide stewardship of Texas natural resources the RRA is predominantly responsible for providing clean accessible life-sustaining water to citizens throughout the region.

Now, sadly, it's a become a bastion of gainful opportunity for a few; a detriment to many.

In full disclosure, my family’s home and mine reside within the water district controlled by the RRA, and at the time of writing, my home has no running water.

Our entire community’s system was turned off days ago, with no notices provided or explanations given, leaving communities including children without water during a time in which daily temperatures have exceeded 100 degrees.

However, upon further research into the Red River Water Authority, this may be a blessing, as the water of RRA is not fit to drink, nor has it been for some time.

Things we should be able to trust are not in the water provided by the government including lead, copper, E-Coli, and other pollutants.

However, in recent years, apparently, all of these have been found to be in water supplied by the Red River Water Authority who, in addition to being nonchalant about the issue also just levied a 41% increase in water rates.

Within their recent Drinking Water Quality Report the RRA states, " . . . We failed to test our drinking water for the contaminants and period indicated. Because of this failure, we cannot be sure of the quality of our drinking water."

In short, if they don’t test for it, they can’t tell you it’s there!

But don’t worry, in case of failure, the RRA will surely tell you, the consumer, that you’re on a boil notice, and you need to do so for the safety of your health, right?

" . . . We failed to adequately notify you, our drinking water consumers, about a violation of the drinking water regulations."

These failures occurred in 2023, 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019, 2018 . . . 

See a trend?

When pressed on their continuous issues and lack of proper notification, the RRA stated in their 2023 Notice, which reads, in part:

"This is not an emergency. However, some people who drink water containing trihalomethanes in excess of MCL over many years may experience problems," . . . 

No emergency?!

"Not an emergency" so long as you haven’t been drinking the water.

But . . . Just how long is too long?

According to records, nitrate level failures first started in 1979.

So, for 43 years, several of RRA’s water systems have been in violation of drinking water standards of chemicals that can kill children, and still, they say, "Not an emergency."

In 2019, it was found that RRA had not even applied for Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) assistance or guidance to address its nitrate issues.

According to reports, the RRA states dealing with the TWDB would be "too cumbersome" and "time-consuming."

Easier to simply raise rates, issue bonds, and do little to address serious flaws and issues.

Nor did the RRA speak to the American Water Works Association, despite being a member.

This would give them access to the Community Engineering Corp, which provides technical support in the form of time and expertise with various aspects of infrastructure.

Residents are told instead to boil the water to solve the issue.

News Flash!

Nitrates don’t evaporate, so boiling water actually increases the nitrate concentration.

The best advice given to residents by the RRA may actually be making issues worse.

But don’t worry, the EPA gave the RRA a fine which will surely motivate them to correct their failures. One would think, but given that the fine was a whopping $54,000 dollars and considering the RRA passed that along to consumers with their recent 41% rate increase, this is not an emergency, indeed.

All of the outlined information provided has come via the reports that the RRA itself puts out.

On page 51 are horrifying details:

" . . . Management Action should adopt or amend the following policies to comply with state law and TCEQ rules:

"A policy prohibiting the authority from granting money or other valuable property to individual citizens, associations, or corporations, B: A policy to prohibit nepotism, and C, a policy for pre-qualified professional service vendors for contracts expected to exceed $25,000.

"These recommendations would not have a significant fiscal impact to RRA, or to the state."

Literally, the RRA hosts a report that tells itself it should stop nepotism, it should stop enriching individuals, and it should probably source reliable contractors, and that these actions wouldn’t even be that expensive to do, to bring it in line with TCEQ rules.

But why should they?

When the RRA can disregard for decades the safety of the citizens it’s meant to serve, fear no retribution from impotent state agencies, and the federal government fines you less for endangering children's lives than it costs to purchase a single new company truck, why change?

You’re right, RRA. To you, this clearly isn’t an emergency.

For you, it’s merely splitting hairs. For us it's life-threatening.

Seth Denson is a business & market analyst, author and entrepreneur. He co-founded one of the nation's most successful consulting firms and author of "The Cure: A Blueprint for Solving America's Healthcare Crisis." Read Seth Denson's Reports —​ More Here.  

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SethDenson
Texas has boomed, gaining an additional five million citizens in the last decade. Such growth brings opportunity and problems. For example, Texas infrastructure, while vast, has not kept up.
rra, tceq, texas
1211
2023-34-10
Thursday, 10 August 2023 04:34 PM
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