Erin Brockovich Takes on North Texas Water Safety
Concerned Texans filled Frisco Celebration Hall on April 5 as environmental activist, Erin Brockovich, along with water expert, Bob Bowcock, voiced frustration while also sharing advice regarding water safety issues in North Texas. Brockovich first became involved in February after writing several Facebook posts questioning the validity of water testing in the City of Plano. The debate quickly escalated when she blasted North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD), a wholesale water supplier with 1.7 million customers in 10 North Texas counties.
NTMWD began its annual 28-day chlorine maintenance on Feb. 26 and continues to maintain their water meets regulatory standards. Residents reported being exposed to a strong chlorine odor, along with many experiencing health issues such as blisters, rashes and other skin irritations. Safer Water North Texas, with over 13,000 members, listed the above health issues as the top complaints within their group. They hosted the event to further pressure NTMWD and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to answer consumers’ questions.
NTMWD invited the community to attend a panel discussion with water experts the morning of April 5. While Brockovich did not attend, Bowcock took part in the discussion, along with members of Safer Water North Texas. During the meeting, NTMWD’s Deputy Director, Mike Rickman, said federal and state water standards are being met. Bowcock maintained his original position that the district’s water is not safe to drink.
After Brockovich was introduced that evening, she explained, “We are here because you have been experiencing a chlorine burn and people are having problems and reactions to it. You’re experiencing a chlorine burn because they (NTMWD) haven’t been treating the water properly which has led to your chlorine burn. Trihalomethanes (THMs) are highly regulated by The Drinking Water Safety Act because they are carcinogenic. If we are not maintaining our THMs properly, and they could be reaching you, when we go into a chlorine burnout— there’s a problem.”
Cheers and applause erupted as Brockovich sternly stated, “You are not being heard. We as people, as communities, can handle the truth. It’s the deception and lack of transparency, and the lies, that people cannot handle and that is when they will rise and speak up and speak out just as you have here tonight.”
The deceit Brockovich is referencing stems from news NTMWD received a violation from TCEQ on April 4 for failure to comply in sampling volatile organic compounds at one of their facilities. This information was correct until officials with TCEQ released a statement on April 6 rescinding the violation altogether. In response, NTMWD stated, “The violation, cited by environmental activist Erin Brockovich during an appearance in Frisco Thursday, was for failing to conduct water samples at the district’s original water treatment plant in Wylie last year. That plant has been closed for renovations since January 2017 and is not producing water. According to a TCEQ statement sent to NTMWD, no tests are necessary on a plant that is not in operation.”
For the remainder of the evening, Bowcock took the floor using a slideshow presentation to help explain his views on the extent of water issues in North Texas. The evening concluded with Brockovich and Bowcock answering questions from concerned citizens desperate to keep the water in their homes safe.