Brown, smelly drinking water troubles south Harris County residents

Residents refuse to drink tap water due to strong smell, sand or sediment in it

By Jace Larson - Investigative Reporter

SOUTH HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - Residents are refusing to drink their tap water because it has a very strong smell of chlorine and sand or sediment in it.

"It was like someone got a cup of dirt and dumped it in our bathtub," Aimee Thomas told Local 2.

Thomas lives in the Heritage Park neighborhood which is west of I-45 and south of Beltway 8.

The water isn't dirty, but it also has a strong smell. It's been this way for a month and started with a sulfur smell that's now a chlorine smell, Thomas said.

"You come out of the shower and it's like you've been swimming," Thomas said. "We do laundry and it smells like it's been dumped in a pool."

Her family is filtering most of their water.

At the McFarland home a few miles away, Trish McFarland uses bottled water to rinse her 1-year-old boy's drinking cups.

"I see him rubbing his eyes more, like something is irritating him after his baths," McFarland told Local 2's Jace Larson. "It's brown at first and then you flush it until it's clear and then you smell the chlorine even more."

The water company said the water is and always has been safe to drink. It said the chlorine smell is present is because the company switched to a new disinfectant.

The sediment is because the company is flushing the lines of material that has settle in the system over, said Michael Thornhill, SI Environmental's director of compliance.

In a statement to Local 2, SI Environmental, LLC said:

"We are aware of the resident's concerns. The water has always been safe for human consumption and continues to meet the TCEQ requirements. Since Aug. 4, we have been performing routine maintenance on the system which is required periodically when delivering surface water in large systems. The residents were notified of the routine maintenance through a message on their water bill and by signs posted throughout the district.

"As part of the process, we have switched disinfectants and have increased our flushing. We have received calls from residents at which point we are educating them of the process and increased flushing in those locations. This process should be completed by Aug. 27."

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