Local News

Dec 18, 2013 4:06 PM

Unlicensed Employees at Beeville Water Plant

CORPUS CHRISTI - Earlier this month Beeville Mayor David Carabajal told residents the city was misinformed about problems at the water treatment plant and were not given enough information to deal with health and safety concerns over the water supply.

This week, KRIS 6 News has learned an employee who dumped three gallons of chemicals into the water system was not licensed by the state at the time. The interim city manager Marvin Townsend says the man was licensed at one point, but the certification had expired. The trouble is that employee isn't the only person working without a license.

Officials claim there's a high turnover rate in the water department due to competition for wages and jobs with work in the Eagle Ford Shale development.

Utilities Systems Director Cesario Vela told KRIS 6 News, "What are you going to do if you can't get people who are certified, and you still have to operate the facility. You can't shut it down. So what do you do? You have to operate the facility with what you got."

Here's what city leaders say happened to the water supply over the Thanksgiving holiday and first week of December. A series of 12 water main breaks led to a significant lose of pressure for most residents, then the employee dumped too many chemicals to treat the supply.

All the troubles lead to a complete shutdown of the water supply for two days. City leaders say they weren't informed about the problems until several hours after the supply was turned off.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is investigating the series of events, particularly how the city informed residents of the problems. The state wants to know if a boil water notice was issued correctly, and if the water was clean enough when it was turned back on.

Residents can only receive boil water notices if they sign up using the police department's notification system. Water customers also complained the supply was "cloudy" one restored, but the city says cloudy water is normal when it's first put back into the system.

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