4/18/2008 12:00 AM
In a continuing effort to assure the state's water supply is safe, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) are working together to help the public water systems in the state. TCEQ has contracted with TEEX to develop baseline data and protocols for testing water samples with the ECLOX field analyzer, a machine that detects organic contaminants in tap water, such as fertilizer and pesticides. TEEX is collecting water samples from six public water systems across the state to conduct the tests. Baseline data under normal conditions will be collected by the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority, which is cooperating with TEEX on the test. TEEX will add a variety of contaminants to the water samples and determine how these affect the ECLOX readings. "This information will help us to develop ECLOX protocols that a water utility can use to analyze water quality or determine if the water contains contaminants from a water line break or other reasons," said Keith McLeroy, (pictured holding an ECLOX field analyzer), a water and wastewater laboratory instructor with TEEX's Engineering, Utilities and Public Works Training Institute. Many public water systems across the state and nation have an ECLOX field analyzer, which is manufactured by Capital Controls in the U.K. The analyzer was designed to determine if a water supply had been contaminated, either accidentally or intentionally. The problem, McLeroy said, is that the cities have no baseline data with which to compare the readings made by the ECLOX. He likens the machine to a smoke detector that detects the smoke but doesn't tell you if the cake in your oven is burning or your house is on fire. These basic tests and the resulting protocols will allow the cities to develop a normal baseline reading for their locale, he added. TEEX has a long-standing relationship with TCEQ and conducts certification training for the water and wastewater operators in Texas.