Sunday, September 27, 2020

Good News: It's Now Safe To Flush Your Toilet In Brazoria County, Texas... Drinking Tap Water, Though, Is A Little Dicey



New coronavirus cases in Texas have been leveling off. By Saturday, Texas had given up its usual place as the first or second daily nightmare and was "just" the 5th, behind a similarly leveling off California, a steady-as-you-go Florida and behind the big surges in Wisconsin and Illinois. But Texas has another nightmare to contend with instead-- a brain-eating amoeba in the tap water. The warning above came from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Who even ever imagined Texas has one!

There was some good news in the announcement to the 8 cities in jeopardy. Although your brain could be eaten if you use the tap water, it's A-OK to flush the toilet.

I was interested in knowing how the brain-eating amoeba (naegleria fowleri) got into Brazoria County's water supply. In the initial press release the warning was for the following cities: Lake Jackson, Freeport, Angleton, Brazoria, Richwood, Oyster Creek, Clute, Rosenburg, Dow Chemical, TDCJ Clemens and TDCJ Wayne Scott. Well, TDCJ stands for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-- and I hope they're serving Fiji water to the inmates in the two facilities-- but Dow Chemical? Dow chemical, that's a city? Well, not exactly. I don't know for 100% if it was Dow that is responsible for the brain-eating water, but... come on-- until we hear it isn't, we know it is. On their corporate website, Dow brags that "Everything is bigger in Texas and that includes The Dow Chemical Company. Dow first came to Texas in 1940, building a plant in Freeport to extract magnesium from seawater. The company’s presence in the state has continued to grow through the years, and now it calls Deer Park, Freeport, Houston, La Porte, Seadrift and Texas City home... Dow facilities in Texas produce billions of pounds of products each year that enhance the quality of life for people around the globe. Dow products serve virtually every consumer market ranging from food to building and construction and from health and medicine to transportation. These products are used in a variety of end-use products-- office supplies, mouthwash, pharmaceuticals, computers, furniture, paints, carpet, garbage bags, cosmetics, chewing gum, lozenges, cleaning products and food." But don't despair... They saved the good news for last: "Dow is committed to the principles of Sustainable Development-- working to enhance economic prosperity, environmental stewardship and corporate responsibility."

Brazoria County is Trump country. In 2016, he beat Hillary there 72,653 (60.4%) to 43,075 (35.8%). Presumably, most of the voters oppose regulations that would protect them from brain-eating amoebas in their water. Otherwise they wouldn't have voted for Greg Abbott in 2018. He was reelected governor by Brazorians, 70,373 (63.1%) to 39,536 (35.4%). And they thought anti-environment, anti-regulation fanatic Ted Cruz would be a better senator than Beto-- 58.8% to 40.5%. Sociopath and anti-regulatory congressman Randy Weber represents Brazoria in Congress and the county performed at an R+40 level for him, far stronger than any other part of TX-14. He's running again this cycle-- again against Adrienne Bell-- and I'm sure anyone who has been impacted by Dow Chemical's presence in their drinking water will dutifully vote for him again-- and for John Cornyn.

Goal ThermometerThis morning, I asked Bell if it's fair for me to blame Texas politicians like Weber for this environmental catastrophe in Brazoria. She did not shy away from the question, the way most candidates would. "There is real talk and political talk. The political talk gets complicated because it involves buzzwords like governmental regulation, the free market and the science of water quality. That’s the kind of talk Weber wants because it keeps voters and residents confused enough to keep voting for him. The real talk is this-- there is a brain-eating amoeba in the water in Brazoria County, and it is there because of Dow Chemical dumping their waste. Randy Weber took thousands from DOW Chemical’s official PAC back in June of 2019. Weber is content to let Texans drink poisoned water because of campaign donations. He doesn’t care about Texans as much as he cares about making a living at the expense of Texans’ health. So what if some people get sick and die, as long as he keeps his seat. You can retire this minion of Trump by voting him out in November, so you can rely on someone like me to give you the real talk."

Julie Oliver is running for Congress in a different part of Texas-- the center of the state-- but a few minutes ago she told me that "We see repeatedly that when left without oversight, companies fail to do the right thing by their communities and fail to comply with laws like the Clean Water Act, posing significant health risks and leaving working class communities the most severely impacted. Unfortunately under the Trump administration, the EPA has been neutered in its ability to enforce these laws through regulatory oversight. We need real leadership at the EPA-- not science--denying ideologues."

On Saturday, Brazoria County reported 59 new COVID cases, bringing the county total to 11,281. There were 2 more COVID deaths (for a total of 165 countywide). So far just one person has had his brain eaten by naegleria fowleri, a six-year old boy. The warning about drinking from the tap has been lifted in all the cities but Lake Jackson, where the region's water treatment plant is located. Somehow that doesn't sound reassuring.
The authority said in a statement that it was unclear how long it would be before the tap water was again safe.

The authority’s water source is the Brazos River.

Naegleria fowleri is a free-living microscopic amoeba, or single-celled living organism commonly found in warm freshwater and soil, according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It usually infects people when contaminated water enters the body through the nose, from where it travels to the brain and can cause a rare and debilitating disease called primary amebic meningoencephalitis.

The infection is usually fatal and typically occurs when people go swimming or diving in warm freshwater places such as lakes and rivers. In very rare instances, naegleria infections may also occur when contaminated water from other sources (such as inadequately chlorinated swimming pool water or heated and contaminated tap water) enters the nose.

The contamination of U.S. treated public water systems by the microbe is rare but not unheard of.

According to the CDC website, the first deaths from naegleria fowleri found in tap water from treated U.S. public drinking water systems occurred in southern Louisiana in 2011 and 2013.

The microbe was also found in 2003 in an untreated geothermal well-supplied drinking water system in Arizona, as well as in disinfected public drinking water supplies in Australia in the 1970s and ’80s and in 2008 in Pakistan.

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At 4:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised texas doesn't require that you drink your septic water without any treatment at all. Think of all the money that would save Dow and the other corporations which hardly pay any taxes in Texas.

At 5:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

lead in MI. brain-eating amoeba in TX.

what must the rest of the world be thinking about this wretched shithole?

At 7:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The network news reported that a little boy died from the amoeba. No one in Texas will care, because the kid was Hispanic.

But if a white kid died . . .


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