Arsenic in Water

There has been much concern lately about arsenic in drinking water. In October of 2001, the United States Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Christie Whitman, announced that the arsenic in drinking water standard in 2006 would be lowered to 10 parts per billion. The current standard is 50 parts per billion, which was first established in 1962.

Arsenic: A Deadly Poison
Most of us are aware that arsenic is a deadly poison and we obviously would not want any in our drinking water. There are, however, several things we may not be aware of. Arsenic is the 12th most common element found in the human body and is an essential trace element. Normal dietary amounts of arsenic consumed in America average about 11 micrograms per day. One microgram is relatively the same as 1 part per billion in relation to a liter of water.

Arsenic, in excessive amounts is classified as a human carcinogen. About 30% of the drinking water systems in the State of Arizona have arsenic levels in excess of 10 parts per billion. One part per billion in relationship to time would be the equivalent of 1 second in 31.5 years, or in relationship to distance it would be 1 inch in 15,783 miles.

Show Low Drinking Water
The City of Show Low currently obtains drinking water from four different wells. The wells are individually sampled for arsenic concentrations and results indicate that all but one of the wells show either no arsenic at detectable levels or amounts below the future 10 parts per billion standard. One of the wells, however, ranges around 13 to 14 parts per billion.

According to the EPA, water systems will have to be in compliance with the new standard by January 23, 2006. The City of Show Low Water Department is taking a pro-active stance to comply and has already begun an extensive monitoring, blending, and testing program. The drinking water delivered to the homes of those citizens served by the City of Show Low’s water system has and will continue to be in complete compliance with the United States Environmental Protection Agency requirements. The Water Department is taking steps to insure compliance long before January 2006.

Additional Information
If you have any questions concerning arsenic in your drinking water, you can call the City’s Environmental Coordinator at 928-532-4096, or the Water Department Supervisor at 928-532-4108.