KCBD Investigates: What's in your water?

How safe is your water?

LUBBOCK COUNTY, TX (KCBD) - A request to look into the water quality in an east Lubbock neighborhood has now spurred an even larger investigation.

After finding multiple violations in the Franklin Water Systems 3, we wanted to see what's in your water. So we tested samples from larger systems to see how they compare to Franklin's system.

"Some of these pesticides are actually banned in the U.S. You can't buy them anymore," said Dr. Venki Uddameri, Director of the Water Resources Center at Texas Tech University.

He said he has researched water for about 25 years, and part of that research includes Franklin Water Systems 3.

He said that water system has tested positive for pesticides that were used frequently in the 1960s and 1970s.

"These are human made chemicals and they are extremely resistant over time. They persist for like hundreds of years in some cases, tens of years for sure," Uddameri said.

Which explains one of the reasons why Franklin Water Systems 3 has a problem with its nitrate levels.

The Environmental Protection Agency has set the limit for nitrates at 10 parts per million. When we tested Franklin's water, it came back at 14.5.

Dr. Uddameri said consuming levels of nitrates over 10 ppm could cause serious health effects, especially for children under the age of six months.

"It doesn't mean every kid would die, but there is a high probability that would happen," Uddameri said.

And while boiling water can usually get rid of bacterial contamination, it will not help you get rid of nitrates.

We tested the water in Lubbock and Wolfforth to see how it compares to Franklin's nitrate level.

Lubbock came back at .266 ppm while Wolfforth's nitrates levels came back at 4.29 ppm.

Both cities are in compliance, but Uddameri said that could be due to the resource they have.

"There's not much flexibility for smaller systems because they usually have a few well, they have to use those wells, there's not much choice. The City of Lubbock has several different sources of water, so they have different types of water they can blend and work with to comply with the standard," Uddameri said.

Uddameri provided map put together by the Water Resources Center that shows nitrate concentrations in the ground water from the Ogallala Aquifer between 2002 and 2012.

The Red Dots indicate wells with concentrations that are above 10 ppm, the blue dots show wells that are in compliance.

"There are places where we have elevated nitrates, some of it is natural, some of it is coming from ag and other sources, human sources," Uddameri said.

According to this data, wells in the northeast corner of the Texas Panhandle generally have lower nitrate levels.

Some of you may have received notices about arsenic in your water in the past.

We tested Lubbock and Wolfforth's water for E. Coli and arsenic.

Both E. Coli tests came back negative and the arsenic levels were very low.

The TCEQ said Franklin's most recent arsenic samples were collected on March 25, 2015. Based on results from those samples, the TCEQ said the system will remain on a three year monitoring schedule. Their next set of arsenic samples are due to be collected in 2018.


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