EPA Eyes Midland County to Eliminate Water Contamination

by Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND COUNTY - A contaminated water site in Midland County is now on the national agenda. The Environmental Protection Agency is stepping in to help out residents south of I-20 who live with chromium in their water.

It's been a year and a half since state authorities found chromium water contamination in homes along Cotton Flat road. Now, the EPA is eyeing this spot as one of their top priorities in an initiative they say will protect public health and the environment.

"We will be looking for the source of the contamination and hopefully we can find responsible parties," Vincent Malott, EPA Project Manager said. "If we do not find the responsible parties for the contamination, then we will proceed with cleanup under the Superfund funding."

That means the EPA will pick up 90 percent of the bill leaving the state of Texas to cover the last 10 percent. That superfund list is made up of sites so contaminated that they require long-term, complex and expensive cleanups.

Some people who live in the area, say they're skeptical.

"As far as the EPA getting involved, maybe something will get done, but I don't have a lot of faith in them," Beverly Crouch, who lives in the contaminated area said. "It's been a year and they're just now getting involved? Whatever. It's not going to make me lose any sleep either way."

The groundwater and some wells are contaminated with hexavalent chromium, which is a man-made form of chromium that has a variety of industrial uses. This investigation by the EPA is aimed at pinpointing where the contamination came from.

"It allows for funds to become available to address the contamination in the groundwater so that it gets cleaned up and doesn't pose a further risk and the plume will not expand to incorporate other residential areas or groundwater resources," Brenda Cook, Reg. 6 National Priorities List Coordinator said.

Beverly Crouch has lived near Cotton flat Road for 13 years and is trying to sell it, but because of the area contamination that is almost impossible.

"I have my place up for sale and I'm having trouble getting rid of it because of the water, so I'm probably going to be stuck with it," Crouch said. "I can't give it away right now."

Because of the high danger level, last year, the TCEQ installed filters to eliminate the harmful chromium from their faucets and so far it's been a success.

"They're doing everything they said they were going to do," Crouch said. "I get my reports every month without fail. As a matter of fact, I got a report the other day that said there is no chromium in my water, so they're doing everything they said they were going to do."

"You can see that they get really dirty going through there because I hadn't checked it or anything but now that the filters are in, they come very often to change it," Bete Alcocer, who works in the contaminated area, said.

The EPA is in the planning process for their investigation. Authorities say, they'll begin installing monitor wells by the end of November.