Speaker Dennis Bonnen

Sep 28, 2020

4 min read

Texas House Speaker in Lake Jackson as town faces amoeba threat in the water

LAKE JACKSON, Texas (KTRK) — Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen held a news conference in Lake Jackson to ensure customers that Brazosport Water Authority water is safe to drink.

Bonnen’s remarks come a day before Gov. Greg Abbott is due to arrive in the southeast Texas town where a boil water order is still in place due to the potential for a brain-eating amoeba detected in the water supply of Lake Jackson.

Bonnen wanted to make sure that the public knows that the problem with the water is with the Lake Jackson water supply and not the Brazosport Water Authority.

Initially, a Do-Not-Use Advisory was issued, but that has since been lifted.

The change comes as state and city officials worked to flush and disinfect the city’s system after tests revealed the possible presence of a brain-eating amoeba in three water samples.

The earlier advisory urged residents not to use water for cooking, bathing or drinking. The updated guidance lifted those restrictions and was part of a planned transition to bring the water system back to normal, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality officials said.

Although the water can be used for cooking, bathing and drinking now as long as it’s boiled, it’s still important that you don’t get the water in your nose.

Lake Jackson officials also said the city began a free chlorine conversion late Saturday night that is expected to last 60 days. The system is reportedly required to undergo a full flush, which may cause the water to taste or smell different. The city urges residents to limit water usage for about the next two months.

Members of the Texas National Guard are in the area helping local first responders by distributing water. Each car gets one free case of bottled water between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday at Brazosport College.

Soldiers with the National Guard are at the water distribution at Brazosport College, helping Lake Jackson crews get residents the bottled water they need. We’re live at 5:30pm with the state’s response @abc13houston pic.twitter.com/v9ttMb6GVM

- Roxie Bustamante (@RoxieAbc13) September 27, 2020

On Tuesday, September 29, the water distribution will change locations to the Lake Jackson REC Center on Lake Rd, due to the college campus resuming classes.

The amoeba, known as naegleria fowleri, initially impacted customers of the Brazosport Water Authority. TCEQ later said that Brazosport’s water was safe.

WATCH: Lake Jackson City Manager Modesto Mundo explains how the water crisis began amid concerns about brain-eating amoeba.

Naegleria fowleri typically affects people when the contaminated water enters their body through their nose, according to the CDC.

It can travel to the brain and cause a condition known as amebic meningoencephalitis, a rare but highly lethal disease, according to health experts.

The CDC said people cannot get infected from swallowing water contaminated with Naegleria fowleri.

SEE ALSO: 6-year-old Houston boy dies suddenly of brain-eating amoeba

Symptoms of the illness include headaches, vomiting, fever and becoming disoriented.

The amoeba was suspected in the local water supply after 6-year-old Josiah McIntyre died Sept. 8, Lake Jackson City Manager Modesto Mundo said.

Three water samples out of 11 taken tested positive for genetic material related to naegleria fowleri, including a test of a water hose bib at McIntyre’s home.

The other two positive tests were in samples taken from the civic center fountain and a fire hydrant, according to Mundo.

McIntyre played at the civic center splash pad in late August before becoming ill, Mundo said.

WATCH: Mom of 6-year-old amoeba victim talks about his love of baseball, his sister and the outdoors

The attraction was closed as a precaution on Sept. 8 after city officials were notified of his death.

SEE ALSO: Brain-eating amoebas: 8 things you need to know
WATCH: Residents react to the news as they stock up on bottle water at grocery stores

While the initial advisory targeted the Brazosport Water Authority’s supply, no other cities have reported any issues, BWA board president Juan Longoria told The Facts.

Lake Jackson draws half its water from wells and the other half from the Brazosport Water Authority, according to Mundo.

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As word spread about the earlier Do-Not-Use Advisory, people flocked to supermarkets to buy bottled water. Some customers were seen leaving stores with carts full of large quantities of bottled water.

At an emergency meeting of the Lake Jackson City Council Saturday morning, city leaders discussed the massive response that includes state resources and the CDC. Deliveries of bottled water were being coordinated by the Texas Division of Emergency Management, Mundo said.

The Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice sent water tanker trucks to both prison facilities impacted to provide water for showers at two prison facilities. 18-wheelers loaded with pallets of bottled water were also ordered for the units.

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Originally published at https://abc13.com.