Most of us have seen the headlines or watched in dismay as news reports showed us toxic water flowing into homes and businesses in Flint, Michigan. While perhaps not as dire as the situation in Flint, lead contamination is hitting other states as well – including Arizona.
Water systems at an observatory, a prison and mobile home parks in Arizona are among those that have tested above the federal limit for lead in the past three years.
An Associated Press analysis of federal data found that nearly 1,400 water systems nationwide have violated the federal lead standard at least once between Jan. 1, 2013, and Sept. 30, 2015.
In Arizona, 14 groundwater and surface water systems fall in that category. Most are on the state Department of Environmental Quality’s watch list.
According to the Arizona Daily Sun, lead piping is often to blame. The Sun also listed several spots where lead has been found in the water supply around our state.
- Oak Creek Elementary School in Cottonwood, one of those on the state’s watch list, is replacing plumbing in two classrooms after tests in 2013 showed lead exceeded federal limits at two drinking fountains, said David Snyder, business manager for the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District. The fountains now are under the limit but still present some lead, Snyder said.
- Water from lead pipes in decades-old buildings at the Kitt Peak Observatory in Tucson also have produced elevated readings — including one that was eight times the federal limit. The EPA, however, uses a sample set to determine whether a system is in compliance.
- The observatory’s facilities manager, John Dunlop, said staff, researchers and visitors drink bottled water. Signs posted around the campus remind people using piped water in older buildings to flush the system before washing or showering.
- The state Department of Corrections has replaced faucets in mechanical rooms and restrooms at the prison in Florence, where it’s believed lead was used in the fixtures or to solder the joints, and conditions have improved, spokesman Andrew Wilder said.
Arizona isn’t alone. A PBS NewsHour story titled “Tainted at the Tap,” suggests that cities and counties that serve hundreds of thousands of people across our nation have repeatedly been over the lead limit levels.
Share your thoughts on how we can make sure the people of Arizona are drinking and using water that is not contaminated with lead. Old pipes might make it difficult, but seeking innovative solutions to ongoing challenges is key to our long term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!