By Rita Cook / The Ellis County Press
FERRIS – The Cities of Ferris and Avalon had nothing to say about a recent report indicating that in 2014 both had high levels of naturally occurring fluoride in its city’s water.
Michael Connett, an attorney and executive director of the Fluoride Action Network conducted a five-month investigation and found that 17 cities in Texas, including Ferris and Avalon in Ellis County, had not been in compliance that year.
Avalon officials did not return emails and in Ferris, current City Manager Carl Sherman and at least some of the city council members were not in their positions at that time and could not comment on the situation.
Texas water systems with high levels of naturally occurring fluoride places children at risk for disfiguring dental fluorosis and other potential harms, according to Connett.
“We investigated three states with widespread natural fluoride contamination; Colorado, New Mexico and Texas” said Connett.
“Of these three states, only Texas was violating the fluoride SMCL law.
“As our investigation found, the TCEQ is largely to blame for this systematic and longstanding violation.”
Connett said Ferris had removed the 2014 report from its website since the findings were released, but a check on the website this week indicated the report could be accessed through the city website and there was a warning regarding the situation.
Water can become contaminated due to naturally occurring fluoride in some situations.
Connett said,“Like arsenic, fluoride occurs naturally in the Earth’s crust, and this naturally occurring fluoride can – in some communities – result in excessive fluoride levels in the water.
Most fresh surface water contains very little fluoride, just as most fresh surface water contains very little arsenic. But, in Texas and a few other areas of the U.S., some water supplies are contaminated with high levels of naturally occurring fluoride.”
The solution is to promptly notify consumers of the fluorosis hazard and to continue notifying consumers, on at least an annual basis, for as long as the fluoride levels remain in excess of 2 ppm.
This notice must include, per the requirements of EPA’s federal regulations, an instruction that children under nine not drink the water.
“Every Texas water system with a fluoride SMCL violation for which we were able to obtain annual water quality reports (19 in all), failed to provide the federally required warning,” Connett said. “The real culprits, however, are not the local water operators, but the state regulators upon whom the local officials rely when drafting the water quality reports.”
Most annual water quality reports in Texas are prepared by state regulatory officials at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TECQ).
“There is no excuse, therefore, for TCEQ to have ever allowed fluoride SMCL violations to go unreported, let alone for so many years,” Connett concluded.
Both reports can be found at the links below:
• Ferris’s 2014 annual water quality report (issued in 2015) at ferristx.org/index/index.php/2014-04-07-21-03-55/2014-04-22-04-40-11/water-utilities.
• Avalon’s 2014 annual water quality report (issued in 2015) at avalonwaterandsewer.myruralwater.com/water-quality-report.