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Arp Schools Concerned with Asbestos in City Water

Illustration of potential asbestos exposure in a building

Schools in Arp, Texas, are being provided with bottled water for drinking and filtered systems for cooking water due to asbestos discovered in the city’s water. Traces of the hazardous substance put the amount of asbestos in the municipal water supply above the Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum contaminant level.

“It makes me feel unsafe that I’ve been drinking this water,” said Arp ISD student Hannah Vanwinkle. “It kind of made me feel like, man, I’m just going to go thirsty all day.”

Nestle donated cases of water to the district, which Arp ISD Superintendent Dwight Thomas personally picked up. The district has also started installing filtration systems on drinking fountain and sinks used for cooking.

“It’s very discolored water, so obviously there’s impurities in it,” said Thomas. “Whether it’s safe, whether it’s not safe, I just don’t want our kids drinking it.”

“We had started noticing something in the water, but we weren’t sure what it was,” said Arp Mayor Terry Lowry. “We had it tested and when it came back, it was asbestos.”

Arp isn’t the only city in Texas with an asbestos drinking water problem. Last year, the City of Devine warned residents of high levels of asbestos present in their water. A letter to the city noted:

“This is not an emergency. However, some people who drink water containing asbestos in excess of the MCL over many years may have increased risk of developing benign intestinal polyps.”

According to Thomas, “September first we’ll have three water coolers in all three campuses, so really, every child and staff member shouldn’t have to worry about drinking the water.”

Asbestos is not uncommon in cement pipes in old buildings such as schools. Most municipalities have been working on removing and replacing these pipes over the past thirty years.

“We’re very concerned about our kids. I want to be able to tell a parent, ‘Hey, we’re doing everything we can to keep your children safe.’ So if it takes them getting water from my house, then so be it,” said Thomas.