Arsenic Drives Plan for Stimulus-funded Water Treatment Plant

A new arsenic removal plant is operating so that more than 500 Arizona American Water customers in Tubac can drink and use water that meets U.S. Environmental Protection standards for the naturally occurring element. The standard for arsenic in drinking water is 10 parts per billion.

Last April, the Water Infrastructure Financing Authority (WIFA) of Arizona announced a combination of federal grants and loans that were available from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Working with the Santa Cruz Citizens Council and the Arizona Corporation Commission, Arizona American Water applied for $2.3 million in funding. The commission approved the loan-grant application 4-0 in June. "The ACC's favorable consideration of financing this project with federal funding is the result of combined efforts to start construction on this project and ensure our customers continue to receive high-quality drinking water, meeting EPA standards, at a reasonable cost like it should," said Joe Gross, director of engineering.

The company press release said its application was approved with half of the money in the form of a grant and the other a low-interest loan. Arizona American Water stated WIFA will not determine final disbursement until the project was completed.

Gross told Nogales International that the removal system would be placed next to Well No. 4 inside the perimeter of the five-foot wall that surrounds the well. In addition to the plant, the company restored two roads and installed additional fire hydrants. Updating Keating Circle and Nielson Road were county requirements in order for the facility to be approved.

"We once again want to thank all the people involved especially Kristin Mayes, chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission, for making this happen," said Gross. "The construction started this June, and we have been able to finish on budget and deliver the additional benefits of road improvements and improved fire-fighting ability."

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