Cottonwood, Ariz., Water Systems Must Lower Arsenic Levels

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered four Cottonwood, Ariz., public drinking water systems to reduce arsenic levels in their drinking water systems or face penalties of up to $37,500 per day for each violation.

EPA’s orders require four city of Cottonwood public drinking water systems serving over 15,000 residents combined, to develop and meet a schedule to comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act’s arsenic standard of 10 parts per billion.

The affected water systems are:

  • Cottonwood Municipal Water, 220 W. Mesquite Drive
  • Verde Santa Fe Water System, 800 Santa Fe Trail
  • Clemenceau Water System, 165 S. Candy Lane
  • Verde Village 3, 2612 Pleasant Valley Drive

The city municipal water systems were granted a federal exemption for the new arsenic standard from the EPA in 2006. Under the terms of the exemption, all four water systems were required to meet the new standard by January 2009. All four systems failed to meet the deadline and are currently out of compliance with the arsenic standard. The orders require the city to submit a plan and schedule to comply by 2011.

Arsenic, a naturally occurring mineral found throughout the United States, is primarily found in groundwater and is a known carcinogen. Drinking high levels of arsenic over many years can increase the chance of lung, bladder, liver and skin cancers, as well as heart disease, diabetes and neurological damage. Arsenic inhibits the body’s ability to fight off cancer and other diseases.

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