Ahh yes, the cool unfiltered 68-70 degree water of White Rock Spring in the Great Trinity Forest sure does look like a thirst quencher on a day when the temperature is 102 degrees in the shade. Running colder and clearer than the more famous Barton Springs, San Marcos and Comal Springs to the south it sure looks tempting. But is it safe to drink? Safe to touch? Safe to even stand near? When someone brings up the Trinity River a number of sights, smells and sounds come to mind. The last thing anyone would dare do is to take a sip of it.
Known by some as White Rock Spring, Sam Houston's Spring, Pemberton's Spring and a whole host of lost ancient terms that Native Americans used too. Many dozens of centuries of humans have used the spring here as evidenced by what they left behind. Stone tools of ancient people are all around the spring, old iron bits from pioneers and presently an old car tire or two that floats down nearby White Rock Creek.
I have drank freely and liberally from this spring a number of times. It tastes great. In the back of my mind though, an egg timer starts with the thought of a case of Beaver Fever, Hanoi Two-Step or Montezuma's Revenge.
The decision to test the water was not my idea. It was Dr Timothy Dalbey. Tim wanted to test the water to get a baseline for the future. See what was in the water now so that some time down the road the water could be re-tested if development/contamination occurs in the watershed that could pose a threat. You get the idea. I merely tagged along as the official test tube/water bottle holder and temperature taker. Tim fronted the expense for the test out of his own pocket and for that we should all be grateful. He was also the driving force behind protecting the spring in June and for that he should be applauded as well.
|Thermometer probe inside the head of White Rock Spring|
Beats me what all the results mean. All Greek to me. If you were expecting some deep insight into words that I cannot pronounce, you will be disappointed. Good news is that the spring tested negative for all the chemicals with big long words! I thought for sure a bunch of heavy metals or lead would be in the water but that is not the case at all.
Comparing the results of the spring to an aggregate of other spring tests in the state, the numbers for White Rock Spring closely parallel the numbers found elsewhere for the region at the link below
The first table below is the City of Dallas Water Utilities 2011 Water Quality Report. I think there is a more extensive version available that requires an Open Records Act request. Not sure why it's not online since it's not like the secret formula for Dr. Pepper or something.
|City of Dallas 2011 Drinking Water Quality|
Below is the report from National Testing Laboratories on White Rock Spring. Taken June 25, 2012 from the head of the spring where the water first contacts open air. The spring flows out of a few different places and we chose the strongest flowing head to take the water sample from. The last previous precipitation occurred June 12, 2012 during the monster hailstorm in Dallas. Many of the leaves seen in the photos above were knocked off the trees from that storm.
First table is the Definition and Legend followed by the complete results sent to Dr Dalbey. The coliform note jumps out, E.coli was not detected.