U.S. Water News Online
MESA, Ariz. -- Mesa and three surrounding cities could
spend a combined $100 million to reduce arsenic in drinking water by
the federally imposed January 2006 deadline.
Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff also have wells that will be over
the new arsenic limit and anticipate spending anywhere from $100,000
to $24 million to fix the problem.
Tempe and Glendale draw most of their water from canals and are
not affected by the change.
More than 200 small water systems in Arizona will pay $80 million
to $150 million, said Steve Owens, director of the state Department
of Environmental Quality.
Solutions include closing the wells and finding new sources,
building expensive treatment plants near the wells or blending water
from the wells with other source to dilute arsenic levels.
The current limit of 50 parts per billion, which has been the
standard since the 1940s, will change to 10 parts per billion.
One part per billion equals a drop of water in a 10,000 gallon
Long-term exposure to arsenic in humans has been linked to cancer,
diabetes, birth defects and neurological damage.
A 1999 report by the National Academy of Science found that 3
parts per billion of arsenic in water posed a risk for cancer and
Water high in arsenic comes mostly from underground sources.
Cities and towns often use a mixture of water from wells and canals.
Scottsdale draws a majority of its water from among its 34 wells
and nearly all would exceed the new limit.
The city is planning to close all but 20 wells. Officials are
building a multimillion-dollar treatment plant, and plan a number of
others. Cost estimates range from $60 million to $64 million.
Mesa paid nearly $1 million to study the best way to fix the
problem and is waiting for the results.
The city has 38 wells and is anticipating shutting down about 10
and treating water from four. The anticipated cost is $20 million.
Chandler is anticipating treating 13 of its 22 wells at a cost of
about $10.5 million while Gilbert anticipates spending $2 million to
treat water from two of its 13 wells.
Phoenix estimates paying $20 million to $24 million to treat water
from up to 17 of its approximately 30 wells.
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