Down in Texas the Trinity Aquifer in Northern Bexar County, an area just north of San Antonio, usually can be counted on to provide safe, clean water.
Fralo’s Art of Pizza, a popular Italian village restaurant set in the Texas Hill Country, counts on that aquifer to serve the restaurant from its own well in Leon Springs, just off I-10.
Offering “terrific pizza in an unbelievable atmosphere under large oak trees,” Fralo’s was doing business as usual on Aug. 16 when patrons started getting ill.
Neither Metro Health, the regional health authority out of San Antonio, nor the Texas State Department of Health in Austin was able to confirm to Food Safety News whether the 24 people reported as ill were infected with E. coli O157:H7.
Three days after customers of the pizza restaurant starting getting sick, a 400,000-gallon spill of raw sewage was discovered from the lift system at Boerne Stage Road across the street from Fralo’s.
The lift is part of the giant San Antonio Water System(SAWS), providing water and sewer services throughout the region. SAWS personnel began contacting homeowners and businesses in the area about the spill on Aug. 19.
Big spills of raw sewage in Texas are investigated by the state Commission on Environmental Quality. It’s too early to know when the spill began and if it contaminated Fralo’s well.
A SAWS spokesman said the sewage spill did not impact nearby wells.
After restaurant patrons became ill, Metro Health closed the restaurant on Aug. 20, but allowed it to re-open on Aug. 23 after Metro Health tests on its well water came back clean.
The Trinity-Glen Rose Groundwater Conservation District says private wells require approvals from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The last regular test on Fralo’s private well was in March 2010.
The Urbanspoon Website for San Antonio has recorded 287 reviews of Fralo’s and 87 percent are positive.