By Samantha Smith
Kyle residents have been turning up their noses at the scent of city water, but the city and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) say the water quality is just fine.
According to an emailed response from Kyle Communication Specialist Kim Hilsenbeck, the issue of Kyle’s water testing poorly with the TCEQ in 2015 has been resolved.
“In 2015, the city of Kyle’s water tested higher for levels of THMs (trihalomethanes) than TCEQ/EPA standards allow,” Hilsenbeck said.
THMs are a by-product of the interaction between chlorine and organic matter, such as dead leaves or dirt.
The city notified residents of the TCEQ test results with a public notice that was sent with utility bills in April and May, according to Hilsenbeck. The city also posted information on the city website and at city hall.
“Public works of Kyle dealt with the issue by reducing the amount of chlorine in the water and aggressively flushing the system near the test site, since the age of water can contribute to elevated THMs,” Hilsenbeck said.
According to the email, the acceptable thresholds for THMs as outlined by TCEQ and the EPA are 80 micrograms per liter (ug/L). Hilsenbeck said the city’s THM level on a “rolling four-quarter average” was 86 ug/L during the first quarter of the year. Levels are now back under 80 ug/L.
According to Hilsenbeck, elevated THM levels are not uncommon for cities to encounter periodically since aging water can cause the elevation and just needs to be flushed from the pipes.
But some residents have expressed concerns about the elevated levels being connected to major health problems.
“Since Kyle does not have, and has never had, a sustained issue with elevated THMs, health problems would be extremely unlikely,” Hilsenbeck said. “Even TCEQ says the THMs would have to be elevated consistently for roughly a lifetime to see any issues.”
According to Hilsenbeck’s email, TCEQ representative Andrew Keese said the maximum levels for chemicals in water are set at levels to protect susceptible groups in society, such as children, pregnant women and the elderly.
“Health problems would only be an issue if someone drank two liters a day of water with elevated THMs for 70 years,” Hilsenbeck said.