LAKE JACKSON — Residents will now be able to use their tap water if they boil it first and follow other precautions effective immediately, state officials announced late Saturday.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality revised its order 24 hours after issuing a systemwide do-not-use order for all customers of Brazosport Water Authority because of the presence of a deadly parasite in samples taken from Lake Jackson. That restriction was lifted Saturday morning for all entities except Lake Jackson, which remained under the do-not-use order after 3 of 11 water samples taken Tuesday tested positive for the dangerous amoeba.
Lake Jackson officials are taking a stepped approach to restoring full water service and working with TCEQ to disinfect and flush its water system, the state agency said in a news release at 10 p.m. Saturday. During this period of disinfection and flushing, boiling the tap water makes it safe for drinking and cooking. However, for all other uses, TCEQ strongly urges residents to take precautions to avoid allowing water to enter the nose.
To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking and ice-making should be boiled and cooled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes, a news release from the city of Lake Jackson states. The water should be brought to a vigorous rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes.
In lieu of boiling, individuals may purchase bottled water or obtain water from some other suitable source for drinking water or human consumption purposes.
The danger of the Naegleria fowleri is posed when it enters the nose and makes its way to the brain and attacks the body's immune system. While infections are rare, when they occur, the victim almost always dies, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Other precautions encouraged by the CDC and Texas Department of State Health Services to help reduce the risk of Naegleria fowleri infection include:
DO NOT allow water to go up your nose or sniff water into your nose when bathing, showering, washing your face, or swimming in small, hard plastic/blow-up pools.
DO NOT jump into or put your head under bathing water (bathtubs; small, hard plastic/blow-up pools) - walk or lower yourself in.
DO NOT allow children to play unsupervised with hoses or sprinklers, as they may accidentally squirt water up their nose. Avoid slip-n-slides or other activities where it is difficult to prevent water from going up the nose.
DO run bath and shower taps and hoses for 5 minutes before use to flush out the pipes.
DO keep small, hard plastic/blow-up pools clean by emptying, scrubbing, and allowing them to dry after each use.
DO use only boiled and cooled, distilled, or sterile water for making sinus rinse solutions for neti pots or performing ritual ablutions.
DO keep your swimming pool adequately disinfected before and during use. Adequate disinfection means:
Pools: free chlorine at 1-3 parts per million (ppm) and pH 7.2-7.8; and
Hot tubs/spas: free chlorine 2-4 parts per million (ppm) or free bromine 4-6 ppm and pH 7.2-7.8.
DO place the hose directly into the skimmer box and ensure that the filter is running.
DO NOT top off by placing the hose in the body of the pool.
Residents should continue these precautions until extensive testing no longer detects the ameba in the water system. Residents will be made aware when that occurs.