Sienna Plantation residents worry well water causing skin rashes

Water source changed around time residents notice skin irritation

Sienna Plantation residents say they got rashes from smelly water

HOUSTON – Residents expressed their concern that the drinking water in Sienna Plantation is causing rashes for people bathing in it and drinking it.

Since late January, there have been red welts on Noreen Covey’s body.

“It started here,” Covey said, pointing at her chest. “It’s still here. It moved up to my neck, and for some reason, my left leg is rash central.“

On January 28, the Missouri City Regional Surface Water Treatment Plant stopped providing groundwater while the plant undergoes expansion. In the meantime, well water is being provided by another party, although Missouri City remains ultimately responsible for the water in Sienna Plantation.

The areas affected are Sienna Plantation, portions of Riverstone in Missouri City and the Colony Lakes Subdivision. After the change in water occurred, some residents said they noticed the water smelled like chemicals and even felt slimy. That’s also when Covey started noticing rashes.

Covey is not alone. Dozens of Sienna Plantation residents shared photos and stories of what looked like rashes online. Shane Hawkins’ 7-year-old son has a large red welt on his neck.

”Between the timing, everybody, about the same time frame, same symptoms, where the rash appears, itchy, dry skin. That’s where I contribute it to the same cause,” Hawkins said.

Residents suspect they are having an allergic reaction to chemicals the water is being treated with.

“If there is something in the water, like chlorine, for instance, that is at too high of a level, that could be what’s causing my rashes,” Covey said.

KPRC 2 requested an interview from Missouri City, but it declined, instead referring us to a statement it released Thursday night, saying the water is safe and that the usual groundwater will be provided once again on Feb. 14.

A spokeswoman for Missouri City says the city‘s water plant only supplies wholesale treated surface water to municipal water districts or MUDS who are responsible for supplying water to customers and ratepayers.

Si Environmental is currently managing the treatment of and delivery of ground and well water. Channel 2 called Si Environmental twice on Tuesday to ask what chemicals are being used to treat the water. We were hung up twice. Covey said she tried to get the information from Si Environmental herself and was unable to.

At 8:01 p.m. Tuesday, Si Environmental provided the following information about the chemical treatment of water:

“Using chloramines is not unique to Sienna and used throughout the United States for treating water,” said Si Environmental’s email. “City of Houston uses this process as do most cities in the area.”

The statement goes on to explain that water treatment may include different disinfectants, but public water systems are required to use either chlorine or chloramine in their distribution system. It also explains that chloramine is formed by combining chlorinated water with small amounts of ammonia and that chloramine is safe to use.

“I boil water, and then I filter it,” Covey said. “Then it goes in my little hand bucket. This is samples of the water over the last two weeks or so. It’s dated. We found a place in Houston that will test the water for us, and let us know what’s in the water.”

In the meantime, residents have filed complaints with the Public Utilities Commission and with the EPA.