UPDATE: TCEQ warns of dangerous nitrate levels in Shamrock water

UPDATE: TCEQ warns of dangerous nitrate levels in Shamrock water

SHAMROCK, TX - The City of Shamrock says nitrate levels have increased in its water supply, which is dangerous for young residents.

City Manager David Rushing warns the water should not be consumed at all by any child under six months of age. Infants can contract "Blue Baby Syndrome." This is when too much nitrate reduces oxygen in the blood stream, and can be deadly if not treated.

Pregnant women and people with serious illnesses are also advised not to drink the water.

People will not notice a change in taste or appearance, and most residents over six months of age will have no problem drinking or cooking with the water. Using the water to bathe or wash clothing is fine. It is only consumption for those certain residents that can be dangerous.

Rushing said nitrates exist naturally in soil, and moisture from last month's ice storm helped some of those nitrates seep into one of the city's nine water wells.

Nitrates cannot be boiled out of water like bacteria can, and Rushing said there is no known treatment for it.

The wells on the west side of Shamrock have a very low nitrate content.

When they mix with the water with more nitrate, the levels balance out, bringing the water back to a safe level. Rushing said because of this mixing cycle, the city's overall nitrate levels should be safe.

The following noticed was mailed to customers on Friday by the City of Shamrock Thursday afternoon:

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has notified the Shamrock Public Water System that the drinking water being supplied to customers had exceeded the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for nitrate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has established the MCL for nitrate at 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L) based on a single sample, and has determined that it is a health concern at levels above the MCL.  Analysis of drinking water in your community for nitrate indicates a compliance value in quarter #4 2015 of 10.6 mg/L.

Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the MCL could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue baby syndrome. If your child is under the age of six months, the child must be given an alternative water supply for any consumption. Boiling the affected water is not an effective treatment for nitrate removal.

Most consumers do not need to use an alternative water supply. However, if you have health concerns, you may want to talk to your doctor to get more information about how this may affect you. At this time, the health effects to fetuses of pregnant women are unclear. If you are pregnant, you may also choose to use an alternative source of water for drinking and cooking purposes.

We are taking the following actions to address this issue:

The affected well has been taken off line until all test come in line with the State of Texas guidelines. Once all nitrates are back in line we will blend this well back in to the guideline levels.

Please share this information with all people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (i.e., people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.

If you have questions regarding this matter, you may contact David Rushing at Shamrock City Hall, 116 West 2nd St., Shamrock Texas 79079.

Shamrock Public Water System



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