The Texas Environment Commission has issued water advice to residents served by the Brazosport Water Authority, warning customers not to use water due to the presence of Naegleria fowleri, a brain-eating amoeba found in the water supply Friday night.
“The Texas Environmental Quality Commission, led by the Government Office, is working with the Brazosport Water Authority to resolve the issue as soon as possible,” the advisory committee said.
The Don’t Use Water Advisory was published for Lake Jackson, Freeport, Angleton, Brasoria, Richwood, Oyster Creek, Clute and Rosenberg, Texas residents, as well as the Dow Chemical plant in Freeport and the Clemens and Wayne Scott Texas Department of Criminal Justice Correctional Facilities.
Disaster statement issued on Lake Jackson
Lake Jackson has issued a disaster statement and residents are still being asked to heed the advice not to use water until the Brazosport Water Authority completes an adequate exit from its water system, according to TCEQ
The incident started on September 8, when the city was informed about a 6-year-old boy who was treated with amoeba. The boy’s problem was found in two possible sources: a “splash pad” fountain in front of the Lake Jackson Civic Center or through water emitted from a pipe in the boy’s home, according to a city statement.
City officials said the splash pad was shut down immediately and hired a private lab to test a five-gallon water sample from the tap. The results returned negative on September 14 for Naegleria fowleri and the CDC contacted for further water tests from the splash pad.
Representatives from the Texas Department of Health Services collected water and tested spraying samples for the CDC, and on September 25, three of the 11 water samples tested positive for Naegleria fowleri.
The CDC sent the test results to TCEQ and then the Texas agency asked the Brazosport Water Authority to issue “Do not use water” advice for their customer base, the statement said.
TCEQ is currently testing chlorine levels in the City of Lake Jackson water source and has decided that it will take about three days to clear the system. Locals can get a free water can from the city in the meantime.
The CDC says that while Naegleria fowleri infections are rare, most are fatal. From 2009 to 2018, only 34 infections were reported in the United States. Of these reported cases, 30 people were infected with drinking water.
According to the CDC, 145 people were infected from 1962 to 2018 and only four survived.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported how many Texas cities were notified of a brain-eating amoeba. It was eight.