Search Expanding For Chromium Source In Midland County

By Wyatt Goolsby
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - Still no smoking gun as state and local workers hunt for the source of contaminated well water in south Midland County. Now, officials are expanding the search, hoping to find the source. Homeowners near County Road 112 and 114 have been worried about high levels of chromium in the water since April.

On Wednesday, NewsWest 9 learned more about the ongoing state investigation. Officials with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) said they're still trying to figure out how far the chromium has spread underground. While officials have installed dozens of filters for residents, some locals told NewsWest 9 they're still reasons to be skeptical.

"We've had the filters installed for about eight days, and the people are out here working," Kay Sathre, who lives on County Road 114, explained. "They installed this whole street in one week. They had two crews out here getting everybody done."

Sathre said what's obvious to residents is the amount of water filters being installed. What's not obvious: where the high levels of chromium came from, and how much of it there is.

Now, TCEQ officials said they're expanding their search to cover a half-mile radius.

"Right now our main concern is human health," Robert Patton, with the TCEQ in Austin, said. "We are trying to indentify the extent of the chromium plume and insure that people are drinking and have water to bathe in that is not contaminated."

With no smoking gun, officials said they will keep searching, but Sathre said the problems don't end there.

"The filters are working, the state called and told us that they are working, but the problem is our water is blue now, and it smells like chemicals," Sathre explained.

Sathre said going from the green chromium-filled water, to a light blue tint wasn't what she had in mind. 
"We haven't received any complaints or questions in our offices or with our field crews currently in the field about any blueish water," Patton explained. "I spoke to our contractor about that and he spoke with the supplier and there's nothing in those filters that should throw a color."

For now, however, Sathre said she and her family are still holding off on drinking the water.

"Yeah, I don't think I'm going to be able to use it," Sathre added. "And most of the people's livestock around here won't even drink it, because of the smell."

TCEQ officials tell NewsWest 9, they are still testing and re-testing the water for different types of chemicals. In addition, they said if they need to, they'll expand their search even further until they find the source.