Monday, May 03, 2021

"More than Zero" Cross Connection Control Program

San Angelo's City Council heard a final presentation on the toxic water crisis that hit residents in early February.  After learning the City of San Angelo had "not a zero" cross connection control program but "less than a robust and rigorous program" I submitted a public information request.

City of San Angelo ordinances state:   "Backflow preventers shall be required by the Director of Public Works in [as] deemed necessary to protect the water system from possible contamination." 

 I request documents, communications and e-mails from Ricky Dickson relative to the ordinance above. The time frame requested is from his promotion to Director of Public Works/Executive Director of Public Works in 2014 to his retirement from city employment. A simple list of the businesses/locations and dates required by Dickson to have backflow preventers would fulfill this request.” 

City staff responded:

The City of San Angelo has reviewed its files and has determined there are no responsive documents to your request. 

City residents faced soaring water bills due to the cumulative impact of a five year water rate increase, approved by Council in December 2015.  One might expect a portion of those increases to have been used to implement a compliant cross connection control program as required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in 2016.   

As of May 3, 2021 the City of San Angelo finally met TCEQ;s standards.

The water utility has been successful in providing information to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, allowing the northern industrial area to return to normal water usage.

San Angelo citizens deserve what McAllen, Lubbock, Abilene and Brownwood had, a robust and rigorous cross connection control program that protects the water system from possible contamination.  Residents experienced how a program resting with one executive director can fail.   

TCEQ and City Council need to ensure systems are in place that are deeper and broader than one person and that water users get what they paid for the last five years.