Fluoride Action Network

Wolfforth works to settle well dispute

Source: FriendshipToday.com | March 27th, 2008 | By Scott Slemmons
Location: United States, Texas

Wolfforth and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality officials met earlier this week in Austin to settle a dispute involving four of the city’s water wells.

TCEQ officials approved the four water wells in November, then revoked them for higher-than-mandated fluoride levels in mid-February.

“We were disappointed,” said Frankie Pittman, Wolfforth city manager.

The loss of the water wells will not adversely affect the city’s water supply, said Doug Hutcheson, director of public works in Wolfforth.

Alicia Diehl of the water quality drinking team for TCEQ said a staff person approved the well plans in the fall, but “we had a relatively new staff person approve those wells in November. But after reviewing the results, it showed the levels were high.”

The problem, though, is how much the approval could cost taxpayers. Hutcheson said engineering plans were submitted to TCEQ and OK’d before any of the wells were built. It cost about $350,000 of taxpayer money to convert the four irrigation wells to the public water supply, he said.

Wolfforth will not face any sort of punitive measure from TCEQ.

Fluoride is naturally occurring in the West Texas underground water supply. The required standard is four or less parts per million. Wolfforth has five parts per million in samples from the four wells.

“In the Ogallalla Aquifer, it’s not unusual to find high levels of arsenic or fluoride,” said Diehl. “That’s something we deal with a lot with water systems in West Texas. It’s just the geology.”

Several options are available to the city to lower the fluoride levels, said Diehl.

One is a reverse osmosis system. But it is not looked upon as a favorable solution because of its water waste and the system’s expense, said Diehl.

Another option is blending it with an outside water supply to lower the levels. The problem is finding a surface water supply, said Diehl and Hutcheson.

“We are going to meet with them,” said Diehl. “At that time, we will try and find a solution for Wolfforth to get the water it needs, while our agency gets the assurance or plan in place that over time will allow the city to come into compliance with the standard.”

Pittman added. “We hope to find a solution this week.”

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