U.S. Water News Online
PHOENIX -- Some water companies are considering
chlorinating their supplies following the deaths of two 5-year-old
boys that may have been caused by a waterborne parasite.
It has not been confirmed yet whether the October meningitis
deaths of the boys is attributable to water supplied by Rose Valley
Water Co. in Peoria, but one nearby company has begun chlorinating as
a precaution and others in Maricopa County are likely to follow suit.
Maricopa County records indicate 85 of its small water systems do
not chlorinate to kill possible contaminants, though local water
company officials suggest records are outdated and far fewer
companies are going without.
But the fact remains that some companies do not disinfect their
water, and customers often are content to avoid the sour taste and
foul odor that can accompany disinfection.
``Nobody has convinced me that drinking poison is good for me,''
said J.D. Campbell, president of Sunrise Water Co. in Peoria, which
until recently was not chlorinating.
The system, serving 3,600 customers, is just north of Rose Valley
Water Co., whose water supply is under a microscope as health experts
try to determine if it was the source of the fatal Naegleria fowleri
parasite that killed two youngsters.
Rose Valley's system was shut down, and its 6,000 customers were
without water for four days as Peoria worked to switch those
customers to the city's water system. The national Centers for
Disease Control is testing Rose Valley water to determine if the
amoebic parasite was present.
While chlorination gives customers added confidence, experts say
it is unlikely Naegleria fowleri could migrate from one water system
to another t hrough the common groundwater aquifer from which their
wells are pumping.
``Nobody has ever found this organism growing in an aquifer
before,'' said Will Humble of the state Department of Health
Service's Office of Environmental Health. It is usually found in
brackish surface waters, and is rare enough that ``it's never been
identified as a public health threat.''
The organism's behavior suggests other water companies should not
feel threatened by it, officials said.
``The overall message is, we have very safe drinking water,'' said
Jeffrey Stuck, who heads the state Department of Environmental
Quality's safe drinking water program.
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