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10:03 PM Tue, Feb. 19th

Official: Kingman water safe to drink

KINGMAN – Water in Kingman is safe with levels of arsenic within standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency, the city's public works director said.

"The EPA keeps moving the standard lower and lower as better methods of testing are developed," Public Works Director Jack Kramer said.

"The Kingman well water remains below the new EPA standard."

Arsenic is a naturally occurring substance in groundwater in some places.

The EPA recently lowered the maximum contaminant level from 50 to just 10 parts per billion.

The EPA estimates that about 13 million Americans are served by water systems that do not comply with the reduced standard.

Jeff Stuck, Safe Drinking Water Section Manager at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, estimates that as many as one-third of Arizona's water systems do not meet the tighter standard.

Kramer said the areas in Arizona that have groundwater containing arsenic are in central and southern sections of the state.

"Northern Arizona groundwater is nearly always arsenic free," he said.

Water companies that have arsenic levels above 10 parts per billion have until 2006 to comply with the new EPA standard.

The Arizona Corporation Commission is involved to the extent that the companies it regulates will have to comply.

The ACC approves water rates set by local water companies in Arizona and has concerns about the expensive treatment some sources would be required to use to comply.

ACC commissioner Jeff Hatch-Miller met with officials in Washington, D.C., to discuss ways to help companies make water safe at a cost that would be affordable by residential users.

Long-term chronic effects of exposure to low concentrates of arsenic in drinking water include cancer and heart, lung and other ailments.

The EPA Web site has more information about arsenic health effects.

The ADEQ has a Web site, or call (602) 771-4651 for questions about drinking water issues.

The Arsenic Remediation Coalition was created through the Water Utilities Association and the Arizona Small Utilities Association to help local water companies resolve arsenic issues.

The ACC held a full-day workshop for water companies in April and continues to work with them on ways to meet the EPS arsenic standard by 2006.

Areas that do not use groundwater are not usually impacted by the arsenic contamination.