The incident happened on May 30 when residents were notified that high levels of turbidity could cause illness in anyone who drank the water.
In a report to Hamlett, Vela said the incident was caused by a “discharge of water released at the Choke Canyon Reservoir due to maintenance work being done by the City of Corpus Christi.”
Vela said Corpus Christi personnel failed to notify downstream users of the discharge.
The superintendent said it was increased turbulence that stirred up the turbidity level of the water to above acceptable levels allowed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Vela said turbidity levels in the Nueces River soared from the standard 30 NTUs (nephelometric turbidity units) to as high as 484 NTUs.
Personnel at the George P. Morrill, I Water Treatment Plant at Swinney Switch immediately reacted to the situation and kept the water within the required level of less than 1.0 NTUs.
Anything more than that would have required the city to issue another “boil water” notice to city residents.
Vela said the operators at the plant did stop the flow of water to the city’s pumping station at Clareville to make sure none of the higher turbidity water reached the city’s distribution system.
The report said no one in the city received any of the water that had caused the problem.
Plant personnel then washed out the filters at the treatment plant and resumed the flow of water to the city once the NTUs in the water were below 0.43.
After that, Vela said turbidity levels dropped rapidly.
“Even though we never exceeded the levels required for public notification and/or pump water that didn’t meet TCEQ requirement, we broadcast the public notice as a precautionary measure.”
Vela said he was notified by the TCEQ on June 2 that the city was never required to broadcast the notification because 1.0 NTUs were never surpassed in the water being pumped to the city.
“The regional manager was very impressed with the City of Beeville personnel being able to contain the problem at the Morrill SWTP facility,” Vela said to Hamlett in a written report.
“We were really embarrassed by the incident,” Vela told the council members Tuesday at their regular meeting.
Mayor David Carabajal told Vela that he appreciated the hard work of the Morrill plant staff. He said he had received compliments on the quality of the water from residents.
Vela credited Morrill Plant Superintendent Michael Lentz and Assistant Superintendent Lino Garcia for handling the situation as efficiently as they did.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.