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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Tucson water could prove harmful

Amy Webb
Zachary Vito/Daily Wildcat Tucson Water Story

Tucson tap water could harm some who drink it, according to the City of Tucson’s 2010 Annual Water Quality Report.

For most, it is OK to drink Tucson tap water, but there is a certain “at-risk” population. People who have had organ transplants, people with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, small children and the elderly are potentially more vulnerable to infection from drinking contaminants in Tucson tap water.

Fernando Molina, the public information officer for the Tucson Water Department, said although the quality of water may not be as great in Tucson as other places, it is perfectly safe to drink. He said the information in the report about the water potentially causing problems for those with immune system disorders is information that is required to be in the report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

There are a number of known contaminants in Tucson’s water, including arsenic, barium, fluoride, nitrate, sodium, chlorine and some disinfection by-products. These contaminants are found in trace amounts and the city’s report said the amount of contaminants meets EPA standards.

“All drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants,” the report said.

Not all students are happy with Tucson’s water quality.

“I think it’s pretty crappy,” said Brendan Reed, a pre-business sophomore. “It doesn’t really taste good and it seems like there is a lot of minerals in the water.”

Communication senior Sean Boissy said he often feels sick after drinking water from the faucet. Boissy, originally from San Francisco, said he doesn’t like it because he is used to drinking perfectly clean water right from the tap at home.

Billy Dimitri, a civil engineering junior, said it is a hard change to go from drinking perfectly clean tap water in his home in New York City to not feeling safe drinking Tucson’s water. “I think it sucks,” Dimitri said. “I have to buy all my water. I can’t drink out of the tap anymore, so financially, it’s not good.”

The United States Bureau of Reclamation website said the Central Arizona Project serves more than 5 million people their drinking water on a 336-mile path from Lake Havasu to Tucson. Tucson’s water quality report said along this path there are many man-made lakes and water-holding facilities that treat the water, but that it also picks up contaminants along the way.

Molina said the reason some students may feel sick after drinking the water in Tucson might have to do with the “hardness” or amount of minerals in the water. The hardness is different from New York or California water, and it may just be the students not being used to that. He said that right now the Tucson Water Department is only observing the rising amount of minerals that are collected in the water system because installing a treatment plant for mineral control would not be economically sound right now. He added that, for the average water consumer in Tucson, they would have to pay an extra $12 to $18 per month to implement such a mineral treatment facility.

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