Zavalla Water Problems

by Christa Lollis

Less than a year ago the Cryer family lost their son Allen to cancer. At 9, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and the family wonders if their water had anything to do with it. The father, George Cryer said, "They send out notices not to drink it if you're elderly, if you're sick or if you've got cancer. If you're just not perfectly healthy you shouldn't be drinking the water around here." For at least three years the family has received those notices. Their son's tumor was the first red flag, but at least two other cases of childhood cancer in this town of 650 are now raising concerns with most residents.

At recent town meetings they've learned even more. "The doctor who came to one of those meetings down here about the cancer here, he said just bathing in it you could get the same chemicals in your body from bathing in it that you can from drinking it," Cryer explained. George says he, like many of his neighbors, doesn't drink the water anymore, but he still has to use it. "Sometimes when I take a bath I fill the tub up and the water sometimes it's brown. Sometimes it's clear. Sometimes you can smell chlorine in it so strong it burns your eyes when you get it in your eyes," Cryer said. The family says they can deal with the occasional dirty water, but they don't want to have to deal with any more children in Zavalla dying. George explains, "It takes something out of you to watch your kid die from something he might have caught from around here and there's nothing you can do about it." The Cryer's aren't saying the water definitely caused Allen's tumor but they aren't ruling it out just yet. They hope the TCEQ's findings will answer some of their questions.