LAKE JACKSON — The city is dealing with two different water situations and needs access to private property to address one of them, officials said Wednesday.
Crews will come onto private property to seek voluntary access to inspect water systems in yards, but the city also warns residents to watch out for a few specific things to prevent scammers from taking advantage of the situation.
The people visiting homes and businesses will not ask to come inside, an announcement from the city said.
Crews will seek permission by knocking, but if no one answers, they will leave a door hanger with instructions to call and give permission, according to the emergency message.
“This permission is very important, so please call if you get a door hanger,” the message said.
All crews will have a City of Lake Jackson ID badge, even if the crew members are from the state, according to the announcement. Anyone who asks a resident to see their ID or to fill out a form could be a scammer. Always ask to see the city badge in that case, the announcement said.
“Crews will be looking for raw water and any water source that could lead to a cross-connection, where water can get back into our system, such as, with outside hoses left on the ground,” the announcement states.
If crews find something like this, the city will work with the resident to fix it, City Manager Modesto Mundo said during a Wednesday morning conference through Zoom.
Officials suspect a cross-connection is how Naegleria fowleri might have gotten into the city’s water system. The city tested preliminarily positive for the DNA of Naegleria fowleri in three places: a hose at the home of 6-year-old Josiah McIntyre, who died from the amoeba; a splash pad behind the civic center where Josiah played, which has been closed since Sept. 8; and a fire hydrant.
Mundo stressed that the city is dealing with two different issues with different timelines. The boil-water notice resulted from 11 of 54 samples taken Saturday by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality showing readings below the level of required chlorine residuals in the water system.
The city has to get chlorine residuals up to a certain level to get off the boil water notice, which could take a week, two or more, Mundo said. It has to hit the same level all over the water system, even in the points furthest away from the treatment sites, he said.
It will take another few days to get the chlorine in the system up to 1.0 parts per million, which it must hold for 60 days to meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards for clearing the amoeba, Mundo said.
Residents are still advised to not let water rush into their noses or submerge their heads below water, but state officials said the chance of another person becoming infected is extremely slim to none.
The free chlorine conversion Lake Jackson is doing requires them to cut off from the Brazosport Water Authority and use only water from its 11 wells, Mundo said. That is because this free chlorine conversion is not in conjunction with BWA, as it normally is when it is performed for four weeks out of each year, he said.
BWA and Lake Jackson’s regular chlorine procedure uses ammonia, which would become a food source for the free chlorine, Mundo said. Lake Jackson usually uses about 50 percent BWA water, so this is putting a strain on the system, he said.
That is why the city is in Stage 4 water conservation, as well as needing water to go toward flushing the system.
Flushing the system gets rid of the old water and helps distribute the free chlorine through the system, Mundo said. Crews are putting the chlorine right at the wellheads as the water goes into the system.
The city remains under a boil water notice, meaning it is safe to use water for things like laundry, bathing, brushing teeth and washing hands, just not consumption or cooking. For consumption or cooking, water is safe to use after boiling.
Under Stage 4 water conservation, residents are prohibited from washing their vehicles and commercial vehicle washing can only operate between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. and between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
No one can fill or refill a pool, fountain, spa or other body of water unless it is to maintain aquatic life or is equipped with a recirculating system.
No one can water or hose down landscapes or yards, wash parking lots, sidewalks, driveways, buildings or other hard-surface areas. Water cannot be used for dust control or flushing gutters.