Residents worry about Arsenic in Vinton's water supply

Vinton struggles with arsenic in drinking water

VINTON, Texas - Joe Silvas has six grandchildren.

He is an electrician, and works the night shift so he can spend more time with his family.

While Silvas enjoys time with his grandchildren, his place of residence leaves him constantly worried.

Silvas lives in the Village of Vinton, where water woes have been the center of attention lately.

The ABC-7 I-team uncovered documents indicating the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has found Hillside Water Works supplies water that exceeds the Maximum Contaminant Level for Arsenic.

That level, as determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is 0.010 mg/L.

According to the document, Hillside Water Works is providing water with a level of 0.011 mg/L.

This was last recorded in quarter three of 2011.

Hillside Water Works provides water to around 60 customers with 70 connections, according to the water company manager David Richter.

ABC-7 also contacted TECQ. They said Hillside has been out of compliance with Arsenic levels for five years.

"The TCEQ issued hillside water works (hillside) a compliance agreement on October 12, 2009 for violations of the drinking water standard for arsenic. The compliance agreement required hillside to develop a plan to achieve compliance with arsenic standard," TCEQ spokeswoman Andrea Morrow said in a statement.

The agreement officially ended 5 days ago. 

TCEQ said they are now in the process of alerting Hillside of the compliance agreement termination. However, they did not comment on what will happen after that.

Vinton resident Silvas said he is so concerned about the safety of his grandchildren, he now buys around 6 large jugs of water a week instead of using tap water.

He also said he hopes the county will step in to assist people like himself.

Monday Vinton's mayor worked to gain federal funding for a waste water system, but it was turned down when the majority of the council voted against it. This was the water program that Hillside had hoped would include Vinton's tap water as well.

With that option looking less viable, the water company said it will be forced to purchase a pricey water treatment system that could run well over $100,000.

That means water bills for Hillside customers could soar from around an average of $30 to a monthly cost of closer to $100, Hillside Manager Sandra Richter said.

Both Sandra and David said they do not want to purchase the system and raise rates, but are in a time crunch to appease TCEQ.

Still, David said he has hope.

While the waste water system funding was shot down on Monday, the idea was not entirely killed.

Instead, El Paso County stepped in and approved to pay for the application fee for Vinton to apply for federal grants to develop a waste water system.

If this continues forward, either at the cost of Vinton or the county, the general water system may be saved as well. 

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