Abilene drinking water safe despite complaints of color, taste


ABILENE, Texas - The City of Abilene says its water is safe to drink, despite complaints from residents about an unusual color.

According to city spokesperson Alaisha Guerra, the Water Utilities Department has received complaints from customers scattered throughout Abilene.

Lab tests found elevated levels of iron and manganese in the drinking water, according to Guerra. KTXS asked for a specific level, but Guerra said water utilities director Rodney Taylor, who could provide that information, is out of the office until Monday.

Guerra said the higher than normal levels of iron and manganese are "attributable to the increase in lake levels" and what she called "natural processes" occurring in Hubbard Creek Reservoir, Lake Fort Phantom and O.H. Ivie.

KTXS checked with the Environmental Protection Agency, which stated that unlike contaminants like lead, iron and manganese do not present a risk to your health.

The EPA created "secondary maximum contaminant levels (SMCLs)" for iron, manganese and 13 other contaminants. These are non-mandatory water quality guidelines to help public water systems, like Abilene's, manage the taste, color and odor of drinking water.

The SMCL for iron is .3 mg/L. The EPA says the noticeable effects of higher levels of iron are a rusty color, sediment, metallic taste, reddish or orange staining.

The SMCL for manganese is .05 mg/L. The noticeable effects in water with a higher level of manganese, according to the EPA, are black to brown color, black staining, and a bitter, metallic taste.

Guerra said at the current levels, the iron and manganese may make the water slightly colored. She said it "may also stain plumbing fixtures or laundry."

Guerra said the city is "working diligently to resolve the problem."

If you notice an unusual color in your drinking water, the city recommends flushing your line for a few minutes. If that does not correct the problem, contact the water department's 24-hour emergency contact number at 325-676-6000.