The new $1.4 million water filtration system is nearing completion and should be up and running within a matter of weeks for residents in Bridge City. The new system will remove deposits of iron and manganese from the water, which were determined to be the culprits for the stained or brown water residents have experienced for years. Photo by Tommy Mann Jr. 

Tommy Mann 

For The Record

A well-known water quality problem, which is on its way to being resolved, received unexpected national attention this past week as a result of a separate problem surfaced.

The City of Bridge City has been working to resolve a known water quality problem for its residents for many months as the city purchased a $1.4 million water filtration system earlier this year. The new system is currently being constructed and installed and is expected to be online very soon.

However, much of the recent attention to the previous water quality problem stemmed from a letter residents received about a totally separate issue as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) had reported a violation of safe water laws due to increased levels of Trihalomethanes.

Trihalomethanes (THMs), according to the Water Research Center official website, are a group of four chemicals that are formed along with other disinfection by-products when chlorine or other disinfectants used to control microbial contaminants in drinking water react with naturally occurring organic or inorganic matter in water.

“The THMs are an issue at two of our four sites,” said Jerry Jones, city manager of Bridge City. “We have contacted TCEQ about possible solutions. We have completely drained those two tanks and flushed them and reduced the amount of chlorine in order to reduce those THM levels. That should take care of most of the problem.”

Jones said the city has sent off water samples to TCEQ and is waiting on results for confirmation of reduced levels of Trihalomethanes. In its letter to area residents, TCEQ stated the water was safe for consumption despite what it deemed to be minor violations.

Residents of the city have become accustomed to the issues with the city’s current water system and its intermittent problems, most notably the water quality and reports of brown water, which seemed to peak in 2014 and 2015, spurring the city to purchase the new water filtration system.

The brown water issue received national attention this past week when Erin Brockovich, a well-known environmental activist, posted a video on her Facebook page of brown water running out of the faucet of a Bridge City resident.

In a previous interview with Jones earlier this summer, the source of the brown water is excessive iron and manganese, which he stated is “inherent in all deep well applications.”

“The new system is about ready,” Jones said. “The tie-ins are done and it will all start going online next week. We will actually do a start up next week and hope to have it all online late next week.”

According to the Penn State University Extension website, iron and manganese are metals which occur frequently in private water systems.

Natural sources of iron and manganese are more common in deeper wells, where the water has been in contact with rock for a longer time.

Both iron and manganese are readily apparent in drinking water supplies and both impart a strong metallic taste and can cause staining. The orange-brown color from iron can stain sinks and laundry.

Iron and manganese are not health concerns in drinking water, according to the website. The minerals are effectively removed from water using a number of treatment processes, which the City of Bridge City currently utilizes. However, the new water filtration system will take care of that.

“This will remove all of the iron and manganese entering the system,” Jones explained. “We still have to get all of the iron and manganese flushed out of the lines once the filtration system comes online. We are talking to several people to determine the best way of doing that with the least amount of disturbance to the system and our residents. We should have a plan on that very soon.”