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Edwards Aquifer Authority: Three test wells tainted

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality looks for source of low levels of PCE

The Edwards Aquifer Authority said Friday that three of its test wells in the Thousand Oaks area over the recharge zone show low levels of an industrial solvent used to degrease engines or for dry cleaning.
Ron Vaughn, EAA director of Aquifer Protection, said the levels of PCE, or tetrachloroethylene, are below the state and federal standards of five parts per billion, so the water is considered safe to drink.
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality spokeswoman Andrea Morrow agreed with Vaughn, saying the state has the same standard.
"All the detected levels were below TCEQ Texas Risk Reduction Program's protective concentration level of 5.0 ppb, which is considered a safe level in drinking water," Morrow said in a statement.
According to TCEQ, high concentrations of PCE may cause liver or kidney disease.
Vaughn said TCEQ officials are trying to track down current or past potential sources of the solvent.
He added it's not yet known whether the three test wells are at the center of the contamination or on the fringe of a bigger circle with higher PCE levels.
"We've seen one's, two's, three's and four's, getting close, so we should be concerned," Vaughn said.
Thanks to the large volume of water moving through the Edwards Aquifer, Vaughn said the problem could be wash itself off.
"We've been able to dilute out most issues like this," Vaughn said.
Vaughn added that the EAA expanded its search of other wells, including those in the area owned by SAWS.
"Is it showing up in a public water supply well? Is there a direct link from the humans to the contaminated water? Right now, we don't see that link," Vaughn said.

For a list of recent stories Jessie Degollado has done, click here.

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