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How the city of Killeen can safely lift its boil water notice

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says there are a number of criteria that must be met to lift a boil water notice.

KILLEEN, Texas — The city-wide boil water notice in Killeen continued into its second day Thursday, as the city, Bell County Water Control and Improvement District and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality tried to isolate and correct the issue.

The city first issued the alert Tuesday evening when they found water samples at six sites had chlorine levels below the acceptable level determined by the TCEQ.

Killeen's Director of Public Works Jeffrey Reynolds said Wednesday they had not figured out how the problem occurred.

"We've never seen this, but there's a lot of mitigating factors that could play the role in this, and we're gonna keep going through each one if we figure out what happens or what don't happen in the future," said Reynolds.

According to the TCEQ, boil water notices are issued for the following reasons.

  • Low distribution pressures
  • Water outages
  • Microbiological samples found to contain E. coli
  • Failure to maintain adequate disinfectant residuals
  • Elevated finished surface water turbidities
  • Other conditions which indicate that the potability of the drinking water supply has been compromised

The notice cannot be lifted until the following conditions are met.

  • Water distribution pressures greater than 20 psi are consistently maintained throughout the distribution system.    
  • The distribution system has been flushed, disinfectant residuals are consistently maintained above the minimum regulatory requirements (0.2 mg/L free chlorine or 0.5 mg/L total chlorine) in each finished water storage tank and throughout the distribution system.   
  • PWSs with surface water and groundwater under the influence of surface water sources only: water entering the distribution system has a turbidity level that is consistently maintained below 1.0 NTU.   
  • Once the PWS has met all requirements above: Microbiological samples marked “special” collected from representative locations throughout the system and analyzed by an accredited lab are found negative for total coliform organisms."

Once the city sees chlorine levels go back to normal, the water will still need external lab testing before the notice can be lifted. The testing is a minimum 24-hours process, according to the city.

The BWN also impacted the Killeen Independent School District.

Students and staff were asked to bring their own bottle of water for the remainder of the week, according to the district.