EDITORIAL: Roma must clean up its city water testing table

While living amenities make communities desirable, the primary function of any municipality is to ensure the safety of its citizens. So we are concerned by the failure of city officials in Roma to meet mandatory state water testing schedules — a failure that could adversely affect the safety and quality of water for the city’s 25,000 residents.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality told Monitor reporter Berenice Garcia that the City of Roma’s water system is currently being reviewed because of its failure to meet testing obligations, some of which are over two years past due.

Furthermore, the TCEQ’s Brian McGovern on Wednesday told Garcia in an email “The City of Roma has had nine violations issued from the TCEQ Central Office drinking water program since September 2011.” These violations include monitoring/reporting for lead and copper, organic carbon and chlorite disinfection byproduct, as well as monitoring/reporting required under the state’s Surface Water Treatment Rule and four violations relating to the state’s Public Notice Rule for not properly notifying residents of the violations, McGovern wrote.

While there are no charges of water contamination, per se, the fact that the City of Roma has been so lackadaisical in complying with the state’s mandated water testing schedule puts its residents at risk.

For instance, Roma officials were supposed to test water for lead and copper in 2015 but did not monitor and/or report that year, nor did it in 2016. The TCEQ put the city on a six month monitoring schedule beginning Jan. 1, 2017, which city officials have told The Monitor they hope to have completed by June 30.

“When we were late, we called the agency and we told them we missed the window,” Roma City Manager Crisanto Salinas told The Monitor.

OK but whatever could be the excuse for being so tardy with such an important job?

We strongly urge Roma officials to make these tests a priority and to complete and comply with all of TCEQ and state requirements, pronto.

Sampling requirements include obtaining and sending to state officials water samples from 30 households within the seven-mile radius that the Roma water plant serves. Failure to comply could ratchet up the penalties to include an administrative penalty that would come with it several mandated requirements by TCEQ.

Undoubtedly those penalties would cost taxpayer funds and city staff manpower and can be avoided by timely cooperation on the part of Roma city officials. We suggest they quickly do their job and save everyone worry, angst and extra costs.