U.S. Water News Online
MAURICEVILLE, Texas -- A mistake by a rookie employee, who
accidentally hooked up a sewer line into a fresh water line, is being
blamed for contaminating an East Texas water supply with fecal
``I'm not blaming the crew. I've been in the water business for 20
years, and I could have made the exact same mistake,'' said Jeff
Holland, general manager of the Mauriceville Special Utility
District. ``The problem was with the discolored pipe -- it looked
just like a sewer line.''
A crew leader was present when the faulty connection was made, but
he also mistook the sewer line for a water delivery line, sources
About 2,000 customers of the utility district, about 20 miles
northeast of Beaumont, have been boiling water or getting it from a
wide range of companies providing bottled water for more than a week
because of the contamination.
While fecal contamination of water supplies is nothing new, there
has never been a case in Texas where contamination was a result of
workers accidentally hooking a sewer line directly into a freshwater
line, Texas Natural Resource and Conservation Commission spokesman
Patrick Crimmins said.
The water contamination could spark changes in utility operating
procedures across the state, said Rep. Ron Lewis, D-Mauriceville.
Lewis said he will push for legislation to amend the current
regulations for public water systems.
``Unfortunately, it's too late to do anything this year,'' Lewis
said. ``I plan to meet with the water district so we can try to learn
from the mistakes made in Mauriceville. We've seen there's definitely
room for improvement.''
One of the improvements will be to have greater supervision of
workers tapping new water and sewer lines, Holland said.
The utility district will also voluntarily increase testing for
coliform bacteria in order to detect possible contamination sooner,
The Mauriceville water supply system had been tainted with raw
sewage for about 20 days before the contaminant was detected through
water sampling. The sampling was conducted because of customer
complaints about particles in the water, not because the district was
due to conduct its once-monthly testing required by the TNRCC.
TNRCC investigators will continue reviewing the Mauriceville
contamination for about two months, said Georgie Volz, water section
manager for the TNRCC in Beaumont. They will then issue a report and
could choose to assess a penalty or a course of corrective action to
be followed by the district.
Return to the
U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.