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Some San Angelo residents can again use water as odor probed

February 10, 2021 GMT
Ty Smith, with the city of San Angelo Water Distribution Department, conducts a water quality test in San Angelo, Texas, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, after a citywide "no use" order was issued for the community's water supply. (Colin Murphey/San Angelo Standard-Times via AP)
Ty Smith, with the city of San Angelo Water Distribution Department, conducts a water quality test in San Angelo, Texas, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, after a citywide "no use" order was issued for the community's water supply. (Colin Murphey/San Angelo Standard-Times via AP)
Ty Smith, with the city of San Angelo Water Distribution Department, conducts a water quality test in San Angelo, Texas, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, after a citywide "no use" order was issued for the community's water supply. (Colin Murphey/San Angelo Standard-Times via AP)
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Ty Smith, with the city of San Angelo Water Distribution Department, conducts a water quality test in San Angelo, Texas, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, after a citywide "no use" order was issued for the community's water supply. (Colin Murphey/San Angelo Standard-Times via AP)
1 of 5
Ty Smith, with the city of San Angelo Water Distribution Department, conducts a water quality test in San Angelo, Texas, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, after a citywide "no use" order was issued for the community's water supply. (Colin Murphey/San Angelo Standard-Times via AP)

SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) — Some residents in a West Texas city could once again drink and use their tap water on Tuesday as officials continued to investigate what led to reports of water smelling like mothballs in one neighborhood.

Officials in San Angelo, a city of about 100,000 located 225 miles (362.10 kilometers) southwest of Fort Worth, said they still don’t know what contaminated the water but expect test results back on Wednesday.

With the advisory on Monday that no one who used the city’s water system should drink the water or bathe or wash their hands with it, schools and restaurants closed across the area.

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But by late Tuesday afternoon, city officials said they’d determined that some residents could begin drinking the water again. Officials said the city distributes water on two pressure planes because of the difference in elevation throughout the city, and the apparent contamination was limited to a portion of the lower pressure plane. So those served by the upper plane were told they could resume using their water.

City spokesman Brian Groves said Tuesday that he did not know what percentage of customers were still unable to use water. Groves said they have no reason to believe the issue in San Angelo has anything to do with hacking.

On Monday, a sheriff’s office in Florida said a hacker on Friday had gained entry to the system controlling the water treatment plant for Oldsmar, a city of 15,000, and tried to taint the water supply with a caustic chemical.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is working with San Angelo to determine what caused the smell, and has said about 50 residents of a neighborhood reported the water smelling like mothballs.

The TCEQ said that naphthalene smells like mothballs.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information said naphthalene is obtained from coal tar or petroleum distillation and is used in the manufacturing of plastics and in moth repellents.