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Pflugerville resident contracts water parasite — stirring more concerns about city’s treatment plant

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PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — There are new concerns about the water in Pflugerville after another violation at the city’s surface water treatment plant. 

The city is calling this December 24 incident a programming error that only lasted about five hours. ​

This comes after the city announced in November it had failed to adequately treat its water for months, leaving people at risk of ingesting a parasite that can cause gastrointestinal sickness.​

Dales Jennings says after hearing of the first violations, he went to his primary doctor because he and his wife had been having gastrointestinal issues. Sure enough, his doctor linked them positive for cryptosporidium.

“Why would we pay for water?” said the Pflugerville resident. “It’s maddening, I’m very frustrated.”

Jennings says his wife Sharon was diagnosed with cancer months ago. Since then, they’ve been doing everything they can to keep her healthy.

When Jennings heard of the water violations, he went out to purchase a $300 water filter. He says he and his wife use it for everything; brushing their teeth, washing vegetables and cooking.

The City of Pflugerville is saying there haven’t been any reports of cryptosporidium coming from the treatment plant water. However, Austin public health is reporting 52 cases out of Travis County in 2019; two of which were in Pflugerville.

Despite these results:

Pflugerville Surface Water Treatment Plant

“Our health and safety was not in question during the violation,” said a water treatment plant expert.

According to a release, as a result of the computer error, during a period of approximately 2.5 hours, the filtration membrane had a decay rate of .35 pounds per square inch (PSI) per minute which exceeds the state and federal guideline of .33 PSI per minute.

The filtration membrane had a decay rate of .35 pounds per square inch (PSI) per minute which exceeds the state and federal guideline of .33 PSI per minute.

“You can understand…You coming back and telling us you have no idea. That helps no one,” said City Council Member, Rudy Metayer.

It was a long-winded discussion, led by a back and fourth battle.

“We’re not trying to be blunt here, but you can understand our frustration,” said Metayer.

Tuesday Jan. 14 City Council Meeting

Jim Imrie is the Vice President for Suez Water Technologies. They’re a vendor who creates formulas at the water treatment plant. He says The software indicated that a membrane passed its membrane integrity test when it had not.

“This was subtle, very important thing that got missed by us was a diffusion coefficient that was in our base calculation,” said Imrie.

Meanwhile, Council members want to make sure all equipment meets important standards and is fully operational.

This is not instilling confidence in our ability to accurately measure those pressures,” said council member Omar Peña.

The city says they’ve made several improvements over the last few months which include:

  • Membrane Repairs on Trains 1,2 and 4
  • New airline installed
  • Turbility meter moved
  • River pump replaced, permeate pump and replaced a blower
  • Software reprogramming

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