Tyler Water Utilities responds to Erin Brockovich Facebook post

City changing processes after notice of violations

TYLER (KYTX) - After criticism from activist Erin Brockovich, Tyler city officials denied they're downplaying concerns about the safety of the city's drinking water. In a Facebook post last week, Brockovich said Tyler officials were misleading water customers.

"I don't think we're downplaying it. I think we're putting the information out, making it available to the consumer," said Greg Morgan, Managing Director of Utilities and Public Works for the City of Tyler.

Brockovich's post came after it was revealed the city received a drinking water violation from the state. It had to with the amount of haloacetic acids in the water. Those acids are a by-product of the water treatment process and created when the chemicals used to clean drinking water react with organic material.

Morgan said the spring rains put too much of the organic material into the water supply, which the system had to counteract.

But Brockovich and her team maintain the letter sent to consumers about the violation downplayed health concerns.

"Actually in the shower it can cause upper respiratory problems," said Bob Bowcock, an environmental investigator. "Dermal, you know, skin contact problems. Those are immediate health effects."

Morgan pointed out that the letter also stated that people with concerns should check with medical professionals.

"There are people more sensitive to things than others," Morgan said. "We see that with taste issues, we see that with odor issues."

Morgan says Brockovich was mistaken in her post when she seemed to connect the recent addition of more chlorine to the water system and the state violation. He points out the violation predates the chlorine issue.

Bowcock said while that may well be the case, the processes the city is using to clean the water is still putting people's health at risk.

"Certainly we don't think it was limited to that 60 day period of time," Bowcock said. "We think it's a recurring situation, a recurring problem."

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