WATER QUALITY: WILL PHOENIX BE THE NEXT FLINT MI?
OCT 10, 2016
Water is life giving – anyone can tell you that. But can they tell you what’s in your water? Toxic water quality hasn’t been a stranger to media outlets. Places like Flint, MI, and Hinkley, CA have been the topics of past stories, but what about Phoenix, AZ? As it turns out, dozens of cities in and around the Phoenix area are reporting record highs of famous toxic chemicals, lead and Erin Brockovich’s chromium-6.
RECAP OF FLINT MI WATER CRISIS
Flint, Michigan. A town not often recognized by the average American, that is until a state of emergency was declared by Flint in regards to their lead-contaminated water. The Flint city drinking water crisis began in April 2014 when Flint residents began noticing a change in their water quality. Orange, brown, and smelly water emerged in homes from faucets. Children became sick, and high levels of lead poisoning were being reported.
Up until March 2014, Flint received its water supply from Lake Heron, but then switched companies, instead of purchasing water that would be drawn from Flint River. Soon reports came rolling in that the water quality had significantly declined – complaints that were dismissed by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). Despite companies like General Motors complaining about the corrosiveness of the water on car parts, and places like the Flint Public Library declared the water undrinkable after noticing that the water from the faucets and toilets was discolored, the MDEQ maintained that “that there is no imminent threat to public health” and that the nature of the problem was that the issue had been “communicated poorly” to the public.
In September 2015, a team working under Dr. Marc Edwards, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech, and an expert on municipal water quality was sent to study the water quality in Flint. He published a report finding that Flint water was “very corrosive” and “causing lead contamination in homes”. Dr. Edwards concluded that “Flint River water leaches more lead from plumbing than does Detroit water. This is creating a public health threat in some Flint homes that have lead pipe or lead solder. Shocked by the extent of the contamination and by authorities’ inaction to address the problem despite their knowledge of the contamination, Edwards stated, ” the very agencies that are paid to protect these residents from lead in water knew or should’ve known after June at the very very latest of this year, that federal law was not being followed in Flint, and that these children and residents were not being protected”. His research teams revealed that at least a quarter of Flint households had levels of lead above the federal level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) and that in some homes, lead levels were at 13,200 ppb.
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH PHOENIX, AZ?
You might think that the Flint River lead contamination is far removed from the Phoenix area water supply, but recent reports suggest that Arizona residents may have a serious water quality issue on their hands.
The City of Phoenix water quality website states that “More than five million tests and measurements are conducted each year to ensure high-quality tap water in Phoenix. It is tested for more than 100 substances, and is monitored throughout the year to ensure that it meets the rigorous standards set forth by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, and the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department”.
And yet water quality issues are emerging more than is comfortable for most Arizona water-drinkers.
LEAD IN AZ WATER SUPPLY
According to the EPA, lead and copper in drinking water are mainly due to the corrosion of service lines and household plumbing materials. Therefore, the purpose of lead and copper regulations is to protect public health by minimizing lead and copper levels in drinking water, primarily by reducing water corrosivity.
Caitlin McGlade, from The Arizona Republic reports,
“Tempe, for example, found lead at more than 15 parts per billion at four test sites out of 50 sampled last year. That doesn’t mean that there is a problem with Tempe water, but more likely that a few of the households selected to submit water samples had old lead pipes, lead solder or components such as faucets that contain lead. Only two other major cities besides Tempe reported tests over the past several years that revealed lead levels at more than 15 parts per billion. Phoenix had one sample and Mesa had two.”
Other zip codes are at risk for increased lead count in their water supply, including parts of Chandler, Mesa, Scottsdale, Peoria, Glendale, Goodyear, and others.
ERIN BROCKOVICH’S CHROMIUM-6 IN AZ WATER SUPPLY
So the presence of lead isn’t as terrifying as in Flint, MI, but could there be other heavy metals that we should be aware of?
The sensational story of Erin Brockovich taking on corporate giant PG&E exposed deeply toxic levels of hexavalent chromium tainting the water quality of Hinkley, CA. Numerous Hinkley residents were left with debilitating and deadly diseases like asthma, lung cancer, ulcers, atherosclerosis, neurodegenerative disorders, congenital disorders, DNA damage, and much more.
A study conducted by the EWG found that Phoenix tops the charts of cities with chromium-6 in the water supply. Nearly 1.5 million people are at risk of ingesting the harmful chemical which ranks at nearly 8ppb. Maricopa County as a whole averaged around 7ppb, Yavapai County averages 5.79 ppb, and Mohave County reaches an average of 9.28ppb! What’s more, this report shows that some areas around the state have up to 79ppb! Compare that to the average hexavalent chromium levels in Hinkley which were recorded as 1.19 parts-per-billion (ppb) with an estimated peak of 20 ppb!
Reports like this make you wonder what the heck is going on! Why is the EPA tolerance so high when clearly studies show that toxic chemical like chromium-6 and lead are detrimental to use. Well, we can either wait for government agencies to tell us that we shouldn’t be drinking the water, or we can protect ourselves and purify our own. Installing something like a reverse osmosis system can help improve water for drinking, cooking and other important uses. This water purification system removes contaminants such as arsenic, nitrates, sodium, copper and lead, some organic chemicals, and the municipal additive fluoride. It helps cleanse your water so you are ingesting the good stuff – only the good stuff.
At Donley Service Center we believe in clean, pure, and healthy water right out of your tap. A reverse osmosis purification system is more convenient and far less expensive over time, not in just water costs, but in health costs as well if you’re avoiding those lead and chromium chemicals. Choose Donley to install your water system today.