Tacna Water cited in arsenic report
High levels of arsenic have landed a Tacna company in hot water.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality has issued a compliance order to Tacna Water Management Co. for exceeding the maximum contaminant levels of arsenic in its drinking water and for having a number of reporting violations.
“These are serious violations and the company needs to respond expeditiously to this compliance order,” said ADEQ Director Henry Darwin.
Tacna Water Company serves a population of 240 people in the community of Tacna, which is located 40 miles east of Yuma.
According to the compliance order issued Thursday, six arsenic samples taken between February 2011 and April 2012 by the water company showed arsenic levels between .016 milligrams per liter and .022 milligrams per liter. The maximum contaminant level for arsenic under state and federal law is .010 milligrams per liter.
The compliance order also notes that Tacna Water did not provide ADEQ with a certification that it issued a public notice for the first, second and third quarters of 2012, informing its customers of the violations for having a high arsenic level.
“The concern with arsenic is that some people who drink water containing arsenic levels in excess of the maximum contaminant level over the many years can experience skin damage or problems with their circulatory system, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer,” said Mindi Cross, manager of ADEQ's water compliance section.
ADEQ found that the water company has not kept its facility in proper operating condition. An ADEQ inspection in June 2012 noted extensive weed growth within the well and storage tanking compound and several unrepaired leaks in the system, including a leak in a connection pipe leading to a 22,500-gallon storage tank that is the only interim water supply available to customers.
In addition, Tacna Water Company allegedly did not provide ADEQ with a copy of required consumer confidence reports for 2010 and 2011 and certification that the reports were distributed to customers.
Cross explained that Tacna Water has 30 days to appeal the compliance order if it wishes to do so, but after that it will go into effect. Once it is in effect, Tacna Water will have 10 days to issue a public notice informing its customers of the high arsenic levels and 90 days to get it back down to acceptable levels.
“We also gave them 30 days to make the necessary repairs to the facility,” Cross said.
Some of the options Tacna Water has to reduce the arsenic levels in its water, according to Cross, are to blend their water with water with another company or to install treatment devices.
“They would need to propose that to us, and it would need to go through our approval process,” Cross said.
The Yuma Sun attempted to contact the Tacna Water Company for comment, but its number has been disconnected.
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.