The citizens of Corpus Christi are once again crying foul over the most recent water issue. After reports of “dirty water” coming from the taps in downtown Corpus Christi, residents were warned late Wednesday to avoid using tap water because a chemical possibly contaminated the city’s water supply. Thursday morning, city officials identified the chemical as an asphalt emulsifier called Indulin AA86. It is believed that between three and twenty-four gallons found its way into the water supply. City officials are advising that only bottled water should be used for all drinking, beverage and food preparation (including baby formula and juice), making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes or clothes, washing hands, and bathing until further notice. But, what is the real problem, and who’s to blame?
The citizens are mad at the City. The City is pointing the finger at a refinery. The refinery is blaming it on a back-flow issue “from third party operations” near the refinery’s asphalt terminal. I’m fairly certain that the “green” people will find a way to blame all petroleum product producers. But the real blame goes to all involved with the city (and other entities) who do not subscribe to what my dad called “The 110% Rule.” This means that no matter what we’re doing, we should give a little more than 100% to ensure that we do an excellent job.
The new mayor and city council members, sworn in on Tuesday, are being put to the test. They seemed eager on Tuesday to learn the facts, ask lots of questions, and make logical decisions. While the city slept early Thursday morning, Councilman Joe McComb took it upon himself to give the local grocers a heads-up about getting mass quantities of bottled water shipped in because he knew what was coming. Did he have to go that extra mile? McComb obviously subscribes to the 110% philosophy, something that I suspect has helped him become a successful businessman. If all people would approach the tasks at hand in such a way, there would be no one to blame because errors would be few.
The most recent information from city officials says that no back-flow device could be found at the sight. If that’s the case, then is that the fault of the refinery or of the city? Surely an inspector was called in when the refinery was built. And, certainly there was a builder in charge of the details. I suspect that a great many people worked at the sight in its beginnings, and just as no one realized that a giant sewer pipe was left out when Flour Bluff Drive was re-built, someone failed to notice a faulty or even missing back-flow device. Now, all of this is pure conjecture, but I’ve had my hamburger order messed up enough times to know that not everyone is a “one-tenner” and that bad things happen to good people often because the good people lack a strong work ethic and probably have a philosophy of “That’s Not My Job” or “That’s Good Enough.”
In the meantime, City officials are advising that only bottled water be used for all drinking, beverage and food preparation (including baby formula and juice), making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes or clothes, washing hands, and bathing until further notice. Former Corpus Christi council member, Chad Magill, even offered this advice on his Facebook page:
“Speaking with Robert Bowcock, here is the expert advice. DO NOT TURN YOUR WATER ON AND DRAW THE CHEMICAL FURTHER INTO THE SYSTEM. It is easier to isolate if we, the people, are not using the water and drawing the Indulin AA86 further towards us. Here is what I am doing at my house. I am going to my water meter and turning off the valve. As I understand the chemical can get into your water heater and possibly reside there for months.”
McComb quoted the city’s mission statement in his acceptance speech and emphasized the part that says, “In this work we will tolerate no mediocrity.” He must take that to heart because he went the extra mile and took it upon himself to act, something that Magill was known for doing in his time on the council. For the future, it is the duty of each of us to teach our children how to be a “one-tenner” by serving as a living example. We can forgive mistakes, but we must not forget them, or the Corpus Christi Water Foul might just come home to roost.
Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day. She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.