By Dave Rogers

For The Record

The good news is the water’s OK and soon to get better.

The bad news is that Jerry Jones is tired of “fake news.”

“There’s nothing wrong with the water,” Jones, city manager for Bridge City, said Tuesday morning when asked about recent social media reports to the contrary.

“The water’s fine,” Jones said. “It’s getting real old. Get off of Facebook; that’s all I can tell them.”

The issue of Bridge City’s water, which has been an issue of small to great concern for residents the last couple of years, made a public appearance again Monday night.

Marla Zoch, a member of the Bridge City school board, quizzed superintendent Todd Lintzen about it during the monthly meeting of the board.

“Is the water at school safe to drink?” Zoch asked as the meeting was wrapping up but before adjournment.

Lintzen replied in the affirmative but assured Zoch that school administrators were keeping close watch on the situation.

The “situation,” Jones said Tuesday, is that Bridge City’s water remains cloudy but safe to drink, bathe, cook and clean with.

“He’s talked to me two or three times,” Jones said of Lintzen, the BCISD leader. “We’ve talked about the TTHM levels being down.

“The TTHM levels have been down since the day after that story started over a year ago.”

The city’s biggest scare came last July when the state required the city to send letters to its 3,800 water customers notifying them the city violated the maximum contaminant level for total trihalomethanes, a byproduct of the chlorine used to disinfect water.

The July 26 letter said TTHMs, if consumed in excess, could cause liver and kidney problems. It could also increase the risk for getting cancer.

“TCEQ hasn’t said there’s anything wrong other than when the TTHM levels were high,” Jones said. “We’ve certainly corrected that problem. Those levels have been down for a long time.

“There’s no validity [to social media reports]. It’s just some of the crap that started again.”

A problem the city hasn’t been able to get rid of is the cloudy water, which Jones says is caused by iron and manganese in the water.

But Jones is hopeful the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will approve the city’s new filter system any day now.

“TCEQ is reviewing the procedures that we use and the chemicals we use and the filters themselves, and once they give us the word, we’ll turn the filters on,” he said.

“Once we turn the filters on, it’ll reduce the iron and manganese that we’re sending out, but it won’t reduce all that’s accumulated.

“We’ll have to flush all that out, after we have the filter system. We’ll go and flush the entire system to get the iron and manganese that have accumulated over the last 20 years out of the lines.

“The fire department will work with us. We’ll let people know when we’re flushing the lines. We’ll probably do it at night.”

Two months ago, the timeline called for beginning a 120-day “pilot program” by late January. The city was within days of firing it up a couple of weeks ago but TCEQ required more last-minute testing.

When the pilot program starts, Jones said, it will be city wide and, mostly, business as usual. The part that will be different, he said, is that the state will require a lot of testing initially before giving the final all-clear.

Currently, only two of the city’s three wells are functioning

“We found that the problem of TTHM was a well we had out there with the casings were bad and we’re working on that,” Jones said.

The “Romero” well is shut down, but Jones said the city expects to start pouring new casing soon in order to bring it back on line.

And, unlike some social media reports, the cost to repair the well won’t be incredibly steep.

“We’re spending $121,000 on the well for a new lining, a new pump platform, scraping and cleaning, the whole thing,” the city manager said.

“A new well only costs $800,000, but we’re not doing that.”

So, to reiterate, Jones did just that:

“If there’s anything wrong with the water, they’re going to let you know. We don’t have problems right now,” he said. “The TTHM is down where it’s supposed to be.

“The water quality is not a problem.”