U.S. Water News Online
PHOENIX — A water company has agreed to pay Arizona $69,000 in penalties for two incidents in which contaminated drinking water was delivered to thousands of customers in Paradise Valley and Scottsdale.
The fine against Arizona American Water Co. — the maximum allowed under state law — is part of a consent order announced between the company and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
“The company delivered contaminated drinking water to its customers, failed to maintain and operate its facilities to deliver safe drinking water, and failed to implement an adequate emergency plan,” ADEQ Director Steve Owens said. “This is simply unacceptable.”
Arizona American spokesman Todd Walker said the company disconnected a well that was the source of the problem, is relocating measurement devices and staffing its treatment facility whenever drinking water from other wells is being treated.
Company President Paul Townsley said in a statement that Arizona American would work with local, state and federal agencies to ensure that its water meets or exceeds standards.
“While we disagree with some of the state's legal conclusions, Arizona American Water has agreed to pay the fine and enter into the agreement to resolve this matter,” Townsley said.
In January, the company's water treatment system and related alarms failed, and water contaminated with the industrial solvent trichloroethylene, or TCE, got into the water supply for nearly 5,000 customers in Paradise Valley and part of Scottsdale. TCE is suspected as a cancer-causing agent.
The incident prompted a three-day ban on drinking tap water or using it for cooking.
Motorola Inc. and other companies dumped the solvent into groundwater decades ago, and Arizona American contracts with the company to treat the water and prevent a contaminated plume from spreading.
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