DENTON, Texas (AP) — The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says that hundreds of state public water suppliers failed to test for lead and copper in their systems last year.
The Denton Record-Chronicle reports that about 1,000 out of 2,245 water suppliers failed to fulfill the testing protocol in summer 2015. Local, state and federal officials do not have current data required on lead and copper levels for about 1 in 7 of the state’s 6,916 public water systems.
The state laboratory used to send sampling kits to suppliers for testing before protocol was changed to allow suppliers to choose their own laboratories, as long as it was certified. Water suppliers are now in charge of getting their own sampling kits, which led to a failure in testing.
Commission spokesman Terry Clawson said that the change in the testing protocol was made at the request of the state’s water suppliers.
“They wanted the option to ‘shop around’ for cost savings by choosing their labs,” Clawson said.
The agency notified suppliers in January 2014 to test their systems last summer. Testing is typically done in the summer because warmer temperatures increase the risk of lead and copper leaching from old pipes.
Fritz Schwalm, the longtime manager of the laboratory for Denton Water Utilities, said that Denton city employees accepted their responsibility for their failure to react to the protocol change. He said that they have drafted procedures to make sure the city, which is required to check for lead and copper every three years, has what it needs to complete testing on time.
Denton utility customers were notified in their January water bill about the testing failure. The maximum level of lead allowed in drinking water is 0.015 parts per million. Denton had 0.00168 ppm in 2012.
The maximum level of copper allowed in drinking water is 1.3 ppm. Denton had 0.456 ppm in 2012.