City of Andrews Getting Help to Reduce Fluoride and Arsenic in Drinking Water

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

ANDREWS--The City of Andrews has been looking for ways to clean up their drinking water for some time.  Now, with an offer from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), that task just got a little easier.

According to City Manager Glen Hackler, "They are naturally occurring in our ground water supply.  They've been here as long as we've pumped water, but the federal government changed the standards for those constituents.  So we've been incompliant through a compliance agreement with the state."

Hackler says, he's been in contact the TCEQ for several months, trying to figure out a solution to the problem.  When it comes to the city's water supply, the city council is in total agreement, "The city council, a couple of years ago, decided we really wanted to take a more pro-active approach to this and try to achieve some kind of cost effective compliance."

TCEQ will use six different technologies to try to find a more cost effective way to treat the flouride and arsenic levels in the water at the main pumping station.   But Hackler says the city is performing their own tests, "From that, we can springboard, hopefully in the fall or the winter, into a truly pilot program of under sink RO units in the households, that would be city supplied and city maintained over the course of time."

Until now, the EPA has only done this kind of testing on military bases and indian reservations and never considered trying it in a city the size of Andrews.   And the outcome could be very beneficial to everyone.

'If we were successful, then we could actually set a standard for the rest of the state, for other cities, again, to develop a cost effective technology that has water conservation in mind and yet achieves compliance with the federal standards,"  Hackler explained.

Some of the cost of the testing could be picked up by federal grants.  Hackler says the project itself is a win-win situation, "This is an issue that is very common in the western half of the United States, so we actually think it has broad applications and certainly well beyond Andrews."