Kyle family believes contaminated water is affecting health

Kuan-Yin Harris and her 72-year-old mother Willie Mae say they've lived in Kyle since 2003. 

After having several health issues last year, Kuan-Yin says her mother (actually her biological grandmother, mother by adoption) kept getting worse.

"In the hospital they finally started looking further, 'Okay, something else is going on with Ms. Harris, let's get to the source of it.  Started running more tests.  Come to find out 'Oh you've got Stage 4 Colon Cancer,'" Harris said.

Harris says doctors told her mother she had liver and kidney issues as well.  When Kuan-Yin received a letter in the mail last weekend attached to her City of Kyle water bill, at first she didn't realize what it was and nearly threw it out.

"Luckily I didn't.  I opened the letter and I just started reading it and I dropped it and I started crying. And I ran in the room to her and I told her I said 'Hey I think we found the source of what's going on,'" Harris said.

The TCEQ letter says the drinking water in Kyle has exceeded the maximum contaminant level for THM's -- described as volatile compounds formed when chlorine is added to the water during the treatment process.

The letter says some who drink water like this for many years may have liver, kidney, nervous system problems...and an increased risk of getting Cancer.

"My mother has been drinking the water along with myself and my son and my other family members who live here in Kyle.  We have been drinking this water since we moved here since 2003," she said.

But Jason Biemer with Public Works says the city's water has been just fine up until this recent episode.  Nothing that could cause health issues.

"The issue has only been over a couple of months, it's not been a persistent issue, it's not been over years or decades or anything like that," Biemer said.

Biemer says some customers have been calling about the letter.

"Probably a half dozen so far and most folks just wanted to know what a THM was and if there was anything special they needed to do," he said.

Biemer says it's not anything customers need to worry about either.  He says the water is safe to drink.

"Right now we're asking residents to just use their water like always, there's nothing to worry about.  We're doing enhanced monitoring to better pin down what the levels are looking like," Biemer said.

The city says they've reduced the chlorine dose and even flushed an entire area to reduce the water age.

"Get the problem fixed.  Fix the water because now we have to worry about the kids," Harris said

Harris is looking to take the city to court over the issue.  In the meantime the City of Kyle is waiting on 2 different tests to make sure their efforts to fix the problem have worked.  The first of those they are expecting results for tomorrow.

By the way according to government records, Kyle has had 4 other THM violations since 2004 but the city says they didn't trigger public notification basically because they were fixed quickly.

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