The City of Midland has shut down their water testing lab. This follows an evaluation done by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, who says the lab didn't meet TCEQ accreditation standards.
Two years ago the TCEQ took over this type of accreditation for the state. In June, when it was time to be evaluated by TCEQ, the City of Midland knew there was a chance they weren't up to speed with the TCEQ guidelines. So now that the lab is official closed, the city can either reopen or rebuild.
Turns out, quality-wise, Midland water checks out. Where the city fell short was internally.
"They found deficiencies in areas of education and certain classes our two staff people needed to complete, also deficiencies in quality assurance testing and manuals and these types of things," explains Director of Community Services for Midland, Monette Burke.
The water lab only tested for one thing.
"Chloroform bacteria, which are something that if you have a public drinking supply you have to get it tested in order to be approved," says Burke.
Now, that the lab is closed the city had two options. One, apply to keep the lab at the Health Department or tow, filter it to a new department. According to Burke, the city is leaning towards the utilities department.
"The thinking is the utilities department already deals with water testing, there is a lab already in place, so we think this will be a perfect fit," says Burke.
Knowing that this new water lab could now be under his department, Stuart Purvis, Director of Utilities for Midland is anticipating what needs to be done.
"There are requirements that have to be met and just take time to get everything together," explains Purvis.
One thing Purvis does know, even though utilities might control the lab,"our labs are at the plant because the location at the wastewater plant, it wouldn't make it a good location to analyze other people's samples. There's a possibility of contamination," says Purvis.
So, utilities might operate the lab at the health department or down the road a new water lab will be built.
For the time being, as the city decides what to do Midland is shipping off their water samples to Odessa to be tested.