by Victor Lopez
MIDLAND--The order came from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Now, samples will have to be tested by the Ector County Health Department.
The testing is for coliform bacteria, a required test for any public drinking water supply.
At the request of TCEQ, the City of Midland voluntarily closed the lab after a June review showed some deficiencies in their operations. Things like educational requirements for staff, quality assurance issues and needed updates in the lab itself.
The closure was set for six months, giving them time to make all the fixes. But after thinking things over for a while, the city has decided to close the lab for good and re-open it in the Utilities Department.
According to Monette Burke, Director of Community Services, "The reason being, Utilities has a lab. They're just not functioning as an accredited TCEQ lab. We're now going to work, over the next six months, on getting that lab open and perform the testing that the health department was doing."
City of Midland customers will not be charged any more for getting their water samples tested in Odessa. All customers in the outlying areas have been notified that they will have to send samples to another lab for the time being.
City officials want to assure everyone, closing the lab is not affecting the quality of the water. It still meets all state and federal requirements. They hope to have the new testing lab open in the next six months.