SIMONTON, Texas (FOX 26) - It's been several weeks since historic floods hit the Houston area, but ground water contamination problems continue at an alarming rate in Fort Bend County. The issues are in private well water, but since the problem hasn't gone away, there's a public request for help and information.
State Representative Phil Stephenson issued the following bulletin to put Fort Bend County residents on alert:
It has come to my office's attention that coliform and e. coli bacteria continue to test positive in Fort Bend's ground water.
The Fort Bend County Health Department refused to grant an interview about the extent of the problem, so FOX 26 News reached out to city leaders in Simonton, one of the communites hardest hit by the problem.
"It's really perplexing to find the source of what's happening," says Simonton Mayor Lou Boudreaux, speaking to FOX 26 by phone.
Boudreaux says he's not aware of anyone getting sick from the contaminated water yet, but if you look at the extent of the problem, that may just be good luck.
According to Larry Sieglar, lab director for the Houston Health Department, where Fort Bend County's private well water is being tested, four weeks ago, 900 water samples were received, and around 70 percent were contaminated with dangerous bacteria. This past week, Sieglar reports that 40 percent of the private well water samples received from Fort Bend County were contaminated.
"A lot of things could be creating this problem," says Boudreaux. "Where are you testing? Are you pulling from the house where there may be some contaminated water?"
But even more alarming is that some wells are coming back contaminated, that had tested bacteria free the week before. Mayor Boudreaux offers another potential reason.
"The possibility that some of your neighbors have not shocked their wells, or have not tested, and their contaminated wells could be contaminating yours," explains Mayor Boudreaux. This underscores the importance of testing all private well water, even if you're a flood victim who has not moved back into your home.
Sieglar told FOX 26 by phone that he wouldn't rule out that there was aquifer contamination near the private wells, so there's an effort underway to try to map the locations of private well contamination.
According to the Fort Bend County Health Department, the public water supply is completely safe, but people using private well water need to take precautions. It costs $16.50 to test your well water. Instructions and drop off locations area available throughout the county.