Several residents reached out to us recently with questions about the taste, smell and safety of our tap water. These concerns surfaced as North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD) performed its annual, 30-day chlorine maintenance, which ended March 26. Now that the maintenance period has ended, residents may notice improvements to their water’s taste and smell. This annual maintenance has been performed since 2007 and is an approved process by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
The City of Allen works with NTMWD, TCEQ, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure the water you drink continues meeting all state and federal standards. NTMWD has provided an abundance of information about the annual chlorine maintenance on its website, in an FAQ fact sheet, and in a detailed presentation at the Frisco City Council meeting on April 3.
NTMWD collects and processes hundreds of samples each day to ensure the safety of its water. In response to customer concerns, additional water samples were collected from the NTMWD distribution system on March 16 and tested by an independent lab. These samples were found to be well within the bounds of regulatory standards. Details of that lab report are available on the NTWMD website.
In addition, a TCEQ water quality inspector visited Allen on March 22. She sampled five locations within our city and found both the free chlorine and total chlorine levels were well below mandated limits. The City of Allen also sent water quality crews to homes at the request of residents and water samples from these homes also showed chlorine levels below the limit set by the EPA.
On March 30, NTMWD released a comparative report that shows the chlorine residual levels prior to the chlorine maintenance period and chlorine residual levels during the chlorine maintenance test period for both 2017 and 2018 at the 12 TCEQ approved sample sites. These samples were analyzed for compliance and sent to TCEQ. These tests show that the annual average chlorine disinfection residual levels comply with mandated regulations and that levels were similar prior to and during the annual chlorine maintenance period.
Though our water system meets and exceeds state and federal standards, we understand that some in our community are calling for higher standards. To be clear, water is the most regulated service we provide to the citizens of Allen. Higher standards than those set by the Clean Water and Safe Water Drinking acts and the regulatory agencies that safeguard public health do not exist. Organizations such as TCEQ and the EPA base their regulations on decades of scientific studies performed by expert researchers and funded with robust research budgets.
Annual chlorine maintenance is an approved and heavily-regulated process performed to make our water safer based on our specific water supply (lake surface water) and distribution system. It helps eliminate dangerous (and potentially deadly) bacteria which could proliferate in pipes during summer months – including those that cause diseases such as typhoid and cholera. According to NTMWD, 45% of the country performs this same water treatment process.
As a result of rigorous testing and commitment to water quality, Allen has been named a "Superior Water System" by TCEQ, the highest ranking possible. The city publishes an annual Water Quality Report, mailed to every Allen water customer in the spring. The 2018 Water Quality Report will be available in May. To encourage further transparency, Allen shares historical water quality data on its website, CityofAllen.org/Water and created a Q&A webpage to deal with frequently-asked questions about its water testing and treatment process.
For citizens with lingering questions, we recommend visiting a new website launched by NTMWD. At safewaternorthtexas.com you will find in-depth information about water treatment processes—including annual chlorine maintenance—in a single, easy-to-navigate site.
We hope this information brings further clarity regarding this annual maintenance process and eases concerns about the safety of Allen's water.