Commerce residents concerned about the city’s water quality can take encouragement from the most recent round of testing. Levels of trihalomethanes, a by-product of the water treatment process, have measured below the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s desired threshold for the first time in almost two years.
The TCEQ tests municipal water supplies four times annually. Commerce water last passed its quarterly test in March 2016. The state tests at two local sites – one in central Commerce, at Washington Street, and one on the northwest side of town, near Live Oak Street’s intersection with a railroad. The Live Oak site had returned high levels of the contaminant in the previous six tests. High levels of trilhalomethane exposure over a period of decades result in a slight increase in the chances for certain types of cancer.
Levels at the Live Oak site have tested high in part because of the city’s delivery system, which has allowed water to sit for long periods in that part of the infrastructure. Trihalomethane levels increase when treated water stands unused. Recent improvements have improved circulation in the city’s pipelines.
“We were able to install the fire hydrant that was discussed at a previous City Council meeting and to flush the problem area, which appears to have been what we needed to push our scores to a passing level,” Farrell said. The city has also improved some processes at the water treatment plant, he said.
“You may remember that we need to score below an 80 to have a passing score,” Farrell said. “This quarter, the Washington Street site results came back null or undetected and the Live Oak site scored 58.1”
Despite the passing score, the City of Commerce must continue mailing to residents notices of high trilhalomethane levels until the cumulative score of recent tests drops below the state’s threshold.
“A single passing quarter is not enough to bring the running average where it needs to be,” Farrell said. “This is likely to be the case for two more quarters after this one as well.”