GV Improvement District 1 water contains arsenic

GOLDEN VALLEY - Some Golden Valley residents may be getting a little more than they bargained for in their water. Mohave County Improvement District Supervisor Zelda Wright confirmed that one of the wells in Golden Valley had elevated levels of arsenic.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency's Web site, federal guidelines limit arsenic levels in drinking water to 10 parts per billion. The acceptable level was lowered from 50 ppb to 10 ppb in 2002.

Wright said the well consistently runs between 10 and 17 ppb.

"You always have arsenic when you're in the desert but that is the only well over 10 ppb," she said. Golden Valley Improvement District has four wells two are reserved as backup. The EPA requires public and private water systems that serve more than 25 people to test for arsenic on a regular basis.

"When they lowered the level to 10, it really effected the West a lot more than back East. So people have been scrambling since 2002 to comply with this," she said.

The county is hiring someone to install a filtration system to lower the amount of arsenic, she said. The department has already gone out for bid on the project, which must be completed by the end of the year and is estimated to cost around $900,000.

An increased level of arsenic in the water does not mean the well is running dry, Wright said. Sometimes if too many people pull from the same area at the same time it stirs up the water and can increase the level of arsenic.

According to the EPA's Web site, arsenic occurs naturally in rocks, soil, water, plants and animals. It can be released by either natural activities such volcanoes and the natural weathering of rocks or by activities by man such as mining, runoff from farms, etc.

Arsenic is also used in many manufacturing processes and can be found in paints, wood preservatives, dyes, metals, certain homeopathic drugs, soaps and fertilizers. It can also be found in some types of cold water, bottom feeding fish and shellfish. According to the EPA the majority of arsenic poisonings come from food.

Ground water usually carries a higher level of arsenic than surface water.

Arsenic is odorless and tasteless. In short term, low doses, it is easily excreted from the body. According to the EPA, it usually clears the body in a few days, except from the hair, nails and skin.

Long term, high-level exposure can cause cancer of the bladder, lungs, kidney, skin, nasal passages, liver and prostrate. In high enough levels arsenic can cause internal bleeding, inflammation of the heart, kidney failure, elevated liver enzymes, nervous system disorders and skin color and thickness changes on the hands and feet.