Brentwood neighborhood suffers water outages and discoloration

Texas Commission of Environmental Quality investigates and fines Aqua Utilities

TEXAS – For years, families who live in the Brentwood neighborhood have struggled with discolored water. Linda Schumenemann previously lived in the City of Victoria 20 years ago. Ever since she moved to Brentwood, a subdivision in the county, she’s been experiencing water outages and discoloration. Schumenemann feels Aqua Utilities can help improve the well water quality.

Schumenemann said the neighborhood is boiling their water more often.

“We have been on boil water notices and longer boil water notices in 2021 than we’ve ever had,” said Schumenemann. “And that’s in the 20 years combined.”

Aqua Utilities sends out e-mails notifying their customers to boil their water before consumption, washing and watering their lawns or plants. Schumenemann hopes to see improvement in the water, so the Brentwood neighborhood will no longer struggle or experience as many water outages.

“Boiling it once the water cools, there’s just a layer of sledge on the bottom of the water that you just supposedly make drinkable, but it’s really not,” said Schumenemann. “I just don’t trust it, and I wouldn’t drink it. We still use bottled water.”

Currently, Schumenemann has eight dogs and two cats, who all need plenty of water. Lately, she finds herself without enough funds to buy filtered water for her family and pets. She also expressed her household has gone through a prolonged outage for several months.

“We had had a stockpile or a surplus of bottled water, but with the prolong outage from June until August we were consuming more of our surplus,” Schumenemann said. “So, financially, we just couldn’t continue giving our dogs bottled water.”

Texas Commission of Environmental Quality investigates Aqua Utilities

On Jan. 16, 2020, the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality investigated Aqua Utilities. TCEQ fined the company over $9,000 for distributing discolored water to their customers due to elevated levels of suspended solids. In a statement, the agency said they are still waiting for a response from Aqua Utilities about compliance documentation. TCEQ also stated that the company has to submit written certification supporting documents that demonstrate compliance by Dec. 13.

Aqua Utilities responded to the question about state regulations and why it has not responded to TCEQ. The company communicated the following statement:

 “Aqua Texas worked closely with a TCEQ representative throughout this year as we corrected the issues cited in the order. All documentation was provided to the TCEQ representative in a timely manner. The items cited in the order have been corrected including a new well, a brand new roof and treatment to improve the iron issue. The work Aqua completed has increased reliability in the system and we are considering additional improvements  including removing the old building replacing the fence.”

Last year, Commissioner Clint Ives was overseeing the Brentwood neighborhood as part of his precinct.

Commissioner Clint Ives released the following statement

“Sometimes those situations are difficult for a homeowner to understand why the city of Victoria or Victoria county is not doing anything,” said Ives. The county, nor the city, has any authority in regards to the repairs or some of the shutdowns or the multiple days that pass without those homeowners having water.”

Now, Commissioner Danny Garcia is overseeing the water issues in the Brentwood neighborhood. Both commissioners inform residents that they can keep contacting their office for any complaints or concerns. After the census results were released, Garcia and Ives have conversed about the water issues in this neighborhood.

“Believe me, they can still reach out to Commissioner Ives, ” said Garcia. “I’ve got an 11-year history with this issue. I’ve got contacts and that history is valuable. So, whether it’s myself or Danny or simply calling the County Judge’s Office, one of us two will get back to you. Absolutely. It’s just more hands to help.”

Schumenemann performs a water quality test on her home

Schumenemann tested the tap water at her house to see what kind of water quality she was experiencing. The health metric strips test the water’s PH levels, total hardness, alkalinity and chlorine, nitrite, nitrate, copper, lead and bacteria. The results turned out positive for total alkalinity, total hardness and nitrate. After learning of the results, Schumenemann was surprised the water test findings showed negative results for chlorine and bacteria.

“We did have a strong chlorine smell in the water, and I’m just like I said ‘grateful’ that the bacteria was negative. So that’s more worrisome than anything else,” said Schumenemann.

Schumenemann said she’s still hoping for the day she will have better water quality.

“I wish there was a solution that we could count on, but right now I just don’t really feel like there is,” she said.

Garcia expressed his feeling of ease knowing that Ives is easy to contact for any questions on this part of precinct one. When asking Ives if he wanted to relay a message to the community, he said the commissioners care about the lifestyle of residents in the Brentwood neighborhood.

“Brentwood’s in good hands,” said Ives.