Fluoride Action Network

Andrews: City begins pilot program by installing reverse osmosis units in 40 homes

Source: MyWestTexas.com | Drawing to determine pilot project participation | Midland Reporter-Telegram
Posted on December 15th, 2009
Location: United States, Texas

The city of Andrews hopes to have a drawing sometime before Christmas offering interested residents a chance to participate in a pilot reverse osmosis project.

Ultimately, this would lead to installing reverse osmosis water systems under kitchen sinks in all of Andrews’ 4,400 households and businesses, if the city gets Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approval expected this week.

The pilot project would cover 40 residences and City Manager Glen Hackler said it would cost $15,000, including reverse osmosis units and testing.

“We are currently seeking 40 volunteer homes to be part of the pilot study. We already have nearly 100 signed up,” Hackler said, adding names will be drawn from each of the city’s four quadrants, accounting for the type and age of homes.

In exchange for the homeowners’ cooperation, they will be able to keep the r/o unit.

Daily testing, which will have to be coordinated, would be done for the first 30 days and then weekly testing for the next 60 days, with ongoing inspections for up to a year, Hackler said.

Auditioning the r/o program also would point up any practical, technical or operational issues before full-scale implementation, he said. “We need to be aware of all the issues before we make a recommendation to the (city) council and the state,” he said.

Zap said the pilot program should be followed by a community education program.

If all goes well with the pilot project, installation of units would be complete in January and the program would start Feb. 1. The drawing probably would be held soon after TCEQ approval is granted, Hackler said.

Since the late 1980s, Andrews has been in a compliance agreement with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about elevated fluoride levels in water. The city’s arsenic rate is 30 parts per billion and federal standards is now 10 parts per billion. Fluoride standard is four parts per billion, and depending on the well tested, Andrews is just over four, Hackler has said.

He said reverse osmosis is a proven technique to get rid of arsenic and fluoride.

The total project would run about $1.5 million, with operating and maintenance running $120,000 to $125,000. The city is banking on a $400,000 EPA grant to help defray the cost of the units.

This is about 20 percent of the cost of full-blow centralized treatment, which would run $8 to $10 million and cost $500,000 a year to operate. Centralized treatment, said Hackler, is wasteful because it treats all water when only 2 percent is used for drinking.

Under the reverse osmosis proposal, a charge “in the $2.50 range” could be placed on water bills, which currently are $1.40 per 1,000 gallons.

Mayor Bob Zap said the project could add seven to 10 years on to the local water supply.

“I think it’s a terrific thing,” Zap said. “If it works out like we expect, it could be a boon for our whole area where some of these things (arsenic and fluoride) are a problem,” he said.

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Online line at the City of Andrews website:


The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has notified the City of Andrews water system that the drinking water being supplied to customers had exceeded the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for FLUORIDE and ARSENIC. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has established the MCL for FLUORIDE at 4.0 mg/l and ARSENIC at .010 mg/l, and has determined that they could be a health concern at levels above the MCL. Analysis of drinking water in your community for FLUORIDE is 4.8 mg/l and ARSENIC is .033 mg/l.

This is not an emergency. However, some people who drink water containing FLUORIDE is excess of the MCL over many years could get bone disease, including pain and tenderness of the bones. Fluoride in drinking water at half the MCL or more may cause mottling of children’s teeth, may include brown staining and/or pitting of the teeth, and occurs only in developing teeth before they erupt from the gums. People who drink water containing ARSENIC in excess of the MCL over many years could experience skin damage or problems with their circulatory system and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.

You do not need to use an alternative water supply. However, if you have health concerns, you may want to talk to your doctor to get more information about how this may affect you.

We are working to correct the problem. The City of Andrews makes available fluoride and arsenic reduced water to all families at the building behind City Hall, 111 Logsdon. If you desire to participate in this program, bring your clean one-gallon to five-gallon container to fill with the fluoride and arsenic reduced water. Each family is responsible for obtaining its reduced fluoride and arsenic water. An area will be provided to rinse your container before filling. There will be no charge for the water.

Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail

For further information contact us at 432/523-4820.

Public Water System ID# 0020001

Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immuno-compromised persons such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek the advice about drinking water from their health care providers. EPA/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by Cryptosporidium and other microbial contaminants are available from the Safe Drinking Water Hot line (800-426-4791)…

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See also: high natural levels of fluoride in Andrews