KINGSLAND — Crews have launched a project to drill water-quality monitoring wells in an area contaminated two decades ago by “improperly disposed of” dry-cleaning chemicals from a former self-serve laundry, officials said.
On April 13, the Llano County Commissioners Court cleared the way for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to access county land for four wells to periodically test for potential groundwater contamination.
The state first identified the so-called “Superfund site” in the mid-1990s in Kingsland — one in the vicinity of the 2100 block of RR 1431 and the other in the 2400 block of RR 1431 — north and west of where the Llano River joins the Colorado River.
Superfund is a federal program that identifies and addresses abandoned hazardous waste sites.
“It’s more of a monitoring of the amounts of the chemicals in the pockets of granite,” Llano County Judge Mary Cunningham said. “They seem to be fairly low.
“This is to make sure there’s not been any seepage outside this initial area,” she added. “They monitor to see if there are any residual problems.”
Reports at the time identified contamination of “several private water wells and two public supply water wells that have been contaminated by several volatile organic compounds,” according to a 1995 report by the remediation division of the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, now called the TCEQ.
Contaminants identified included tetrachloroethylene (a dry-cleaning solvent), trichloroethylene, dichloroethylene and bromoform, the report stated.
At the time, the contaminants were considered “sufficiently high as to pose a human health concern when the well water is drunk regularly in large quantities,” the report stated.
Investigators pinpointed a self-serve, automatic dry-cleaning machine at a Kingsland laundromat that was draining its contents onto the ground, which, in turn, seeped into pockets of granite among the groundwater, officials said.
After several years of studies, public meetings and remediation efforts, testing continues almost two decades later.
“TCEQ has historically relied on private water wells to monitor the groundwater plume. These monitoring wells will provide a more detailed view and reliable monitoring points for the plume,” according to a statement April 22 by TCEQ spokesman Terry Clawson.
Local officials believe residents should have no concerns.
“It’s safe. There’s no contamination here that they can determine,” said Llano County Precinct 3 Commissioner Ron Wilson. “They are coming back every quarter, and they will test the water to determine the parts per billion (of chemicals) that are in the well.”
He added that since the Superfund site designation, Kingsland residents primarily receive their domestic water from Kingsland Water Supply Corp., which draws from surface water.
“Some (residents) have wells, but they’re not drinking from them, maybe irrigating from them,” Wilson said.