Arsenic warning for Valle Vista water

Water company now required to build treatment system to meet EPA standards

KINGMAN - Valle Vista residents may have to rely on alternative sources of drinking water through 2015 due to elevated arsenic levels in the area's water supply.

Truxton Canyon Water Company, the public water system in that area, issued notices to Valle Vista residents in May concerning drinking water.

Results from routine testing on April 7 showed that the water system exceeded the maximum containment level for arsenic at 11 parts per billion. The Environmental Protection Agency requires public water systems to have 10 parts per billion or less for drinkable water.

This isn't the first time the water company has had issues with arsenic levels. Truxton was hit by a slew of violations from the Arizona Corporation Commission in 2010, one of them being a continued violation of the maximum arsenic levels allowed. In a notice issued by Truxton in late 2010, they state that arsenic levels on average that year were 12 parts per billion.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality also filed a civil complaint and a preliminary injunction in October 2014 against Truxton for "exceedances of the arsenic maximum containment levels and for failing to comply with ADEQ's past enforcement actions seeking Truxton to resolve their ongoing exceedances."

Truxton and ADEQ agreed to resolve the issue on May 27, pending court approval.

Part of the agreement with Truxton requires the water company to start construction of an arsenic treatment system that will "consistently and reliably meet the arsenic maximum containment levels" within 210 days of the injunction, according to ADEQ's public information officer Caroline Oppleman. The system must be completed and operational by May 2016.

Also required as part of the agreement is for Truxton to provide an alternate source of drinking water to its customers. The company is providing reverse-osmosis filtered water at their office located at 7313 E. Concho Drive as of Monday. Water customers can come in from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to fill one gallon per day, per person, per household. They will have to sign in each time they receive water.

This process has proven cumbersome for one customer.

"You have to provide your own container and have an appointment. You have to go to their office and sign up, and you have to be there at that time," said Pat Fix, a resident of Valle Vista for over 10 years.

"They told us they put up a reverse osmosis machine behind the wall in the office. Someone else is filling up the water. When my friend went up there, they said you'll have to come to sign up at their designated time. They're making it as inconvenient as they can."

According to Fix, she and other residents were told that they could use the water for bathing and cooking.

Anne Hopping, another resident of Valle Vista, tested her water in 2011 independently of Truxton. Her arsenic levels from the street to the house were at 25 parts per billion, well above the 13 parts per billion reported by Truxton. Hopping's letter to the Miner in 2011 was forwarded to the EPA with no response.

"After it was tested, we had somebody from Home Depot put in a filter. We change it yearly. That water goes to our sink and our refrigerator - our drinking water," said Hopping.

Truxton has emphasized in their notice that this isn't an emergency, and that these arsenic levels are "not an immediate risk."

Truxton declined to comment on the current situation. The office can be reached at (928) 757-2205 for more information and to schedule times to pick up water.