Some residents in River Oaks want to know why their drinking water is brown.
One resident who emailed the Star-Telegram said she is spending about $90 a month on bottled water and takes her laundry to a service.
“I feel I am living in a third-world country,” she said.
City Manager Marvin Gregory said the water is safe to drink, but understands the concerns and insists that help is on the way.
But not until October.
“The ones who are affected are the ones who are really upset,” Gregory said. “Until they see pipe going into the ground, they probably won’t know what we’re going to do. Once you see it you will know that the city really is going to do something. I can promise you that the city really is going to do something.”
The city that is west of downtown Fort Worth is going to replace 50,000 feet of old and rusting galvanized iron pipe, which is an estimated 70 years old, Gregory said.
The city has been working on a master plan to replace those iron pipes with new, thick-walled PVC pipes. Replacing the pipes will cost about $8 million and add about $6.63 a month to a $100 water bill.
In the meantime, the city will be flushing the water system with higher-than-normal concentrations of chlorine to help reduce the water’s discoloration, odor and taste. That process will continue through Sept. 6.
‘Want to do this right’
City officials started working on the plan five years ago, but Gregory said the green light to start construction didn’t come until 2016. About 100 water customers in River Oaks, which has a population of about 7,400 residents, are receiving the brown water, Gregory estimates.
“The water rate hikes are scheduled to go into effect Oct. 1 because that’s when we plan to start construction,” Gregory said. “We wanted to do this as efficiently as possible, but I’m glad we took the time to get it right because we want to do this right.”
Gregory said the city is in compliance with regulations set by the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality.
The TCEQ reported that it has received one complaint for the City of River Oaks public water system in the past 12 months. The complaint is from a resident who said there was discolored water and sediment in the public water supply.
An unannounced investigation was launched on Aug. 3 and the investigator noted clear water with no sediment, adequate pressure, and low disinfection residual. The investigator returned to the system on Aug. 4 and said the problem with the disinfection residual had been resolved, but the investigation is ongoing, according to a state official.
River Oaks, however, has had other problems with its water in the past, including having to pay a $1,200 fine to the TCEQ because it was out of compliance on disinfectant by-product concentrations, Gregory said.
‘It meets state standards’
River Oaks sent this notice to its water customers on Aug. 2:
“The City flushes fire hydrants monthly to ensure the water we provide is safe and fresh. There are times that water is discolored to a yellow, orange or even brownish color due to cast iron or galvanized water mains and also even galvanized home water lines can cause it. Over time other constituents such as manganese naturally present in water sources can be released with changes in water pressure, resulting in discoloring of water even affecting taste. Manganese is not harmful at the current levels in our system but over time may attach to pipes and release when there are extreme changes in water velocity or pressure.”
The city also plans to replace equipment at the water treatment plant that will help with the discoloration issues, Gregory said.
“The water is safe to drink,” Gregory said. “It’s been certified by TCEQ that it meets state standards. It’s our ultimate goal to take the aesthetic problem out of the way.”