Don’t drink yellow water

Posted on Friday 20 June 2008

We had our quarterly women’s meeting at church Wednesday night which is basically a social where we eat, have a program, and discuss any business items that need to be addressed. I arrived early hoping everyone knew that the city had placed all residences and businesses under a “Boil Water” notice after our water services were interrupted the night before while a city crew made repairs to a broken pipe.

On Tuesday night water distribution to Spur residents ceased while city employees worked to repair a section of pipeline. All Spur residences were affected, and the City of Spur crew worked all night to restore water service to homes. By Wednesday at noon the City of Spur issued a “Boil Water” notice via Cap Rock TV’s announcement channel, an action the city took in accordance with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) guidelines. Any time water is cut off to an entire community TCEQ requires the city to notify residents to boil their water until it is determined to be safe for consumption. The agency which makes that determination is the Texas State Department of Health Services (TSDHS). Once the line break was fixed on Wednesday morning the city superintendent took a sample of the water to TSDHS for testing. TSDHS made their own tests and determined that the water sample was safe and notified the city on Thursday, June 19, that the “Boil Water” notice could be lifted.

Any concerns I had about the iced tea being made with dysentery-infested tap water were soon squelched shortly after my arrival at church when I was told that the tea was made with bottled water. However, there was much discussion about why the water had to be boiled and how one could tell if it needed to be. As in most groups where the topic of conversation falls outside the expertise of those in the group, there is always at least one individual who adamantly tells the others their own extensive knowledge on the subject at hand.

“Well I called so and so, and she told me…And, you must boil it for 2 to 3 days at least! If it’s yellow, you have to boil it before you drink it!…And the city should put it in The Texas Spur that anytime the water is turned off that it should be boiled for 2 to 3 days afterward.”

Hmm…I thought. Yellow water?! That’s scary. I’m not sure I would trust any yellow liquid, even after boiling it, unless it was lemonade, apple juice, or an alcoholic beverage. I had not observed any yellow water at my house, in the toilet bowl or otherwise, that day and thought the water that came out of the pipes at my house earlier that day looked cleaner than it had at other times after being turned off to fix a pipe. But since I hadn’t talked to “so and so” and had little knowledge on the subject of water sanitation I decided to just use bottled water at my house until the coast was clear.

That coast was made clear late Thursday afternoon when TSDHS contacted the city to tell them the water sample was good. So no need to fear. We were never in danger. For future reference, though, it is never a good idea to drink yellow water or, in winter, yellow snow.

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