Monday, January 07, 2008

Update on contaminated drinking water in Scottsdale

Edit on 1/17/2008 to add: For those readers looking for info on the January 2008 incident affecting drinking water in parts of Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, my post on that is here. That post includes links to news reports, the City of Scottsdale's press release on the subject (with a link to a map of the affected area, and a link to Arizona American Water's press release.

End edit...

In the wake of the surprise announcement in November that "incompletely remediated" (aka - insufficiently treated) groundwater entered the drinking water supply in Scottsdale, there was a lot of activity to address the biggest concerns arising from the announcement - the contaminated drinking water itself, and the fact that after the test sample was taken, it took nearly a month to notify the residents of the North Indian Bend Wash Superfund site.

Earlier today, Vicki Rosen, Community Involvement Coordinator at the EPA, sent out the following email update of the situation -

Happy New Year to you all.

As those of you who attended the November meeting will undoubtedly remember, the relaying of information about the recent short-term problem at the Miller Road Treatment Facility (MRTF) drew much concern.

We realize, of course, that it wasn't just that some water did not get the treatment it should have, but also that the process of reporting the situation and then communicating as such with our interested citizens could have been better.

Currently, our NIBW team is reviewing the policy of how all this should work and seeing how to make the communication better. We are also reviewing what additional safeguards might be needed at the plant to lessen the chance such an occurrance will happen in the future. Attached are two letters on the MRTF issue: the first from Congressman Harry Mitchell to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, and the second a response from EPA Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri.

Also attached is a copy of the final Communication Plan developed by the Participating Companies and approved by EPA. A draft of this plan was presented to the CIG and discussed at a CIG meeting in 2003. The final plan incorporates the community input received at the time. The actual approval date of July 11, 2007 is later because this document was part of a larger submittal requirement for the Remedial Design / RemedialAction Work Plan. That is why this final Communication Plan was not forwarded to the CIG before now. But as I've stated, the CIG saw theearlier version several years ago. The final plan is now on our NIBW website.

Jamey and I will be getting back to you regarding any changes to the processes of sampling, analysis, reporting, etc., and we'll arrange for another CIG meeting to discuss this in detail. We want you to know that we take any breakdown in the NIBW cleanup systems seriously and we are committed to sharing information in a timely manner and discussing the what, why and wherefore with our interested community members.

Thank you for your understanding and patience and also for caring about your community's environment.

The text of Harry Mitchell's letter to the administrator of the EPA is here.

The EPA's response, via Regional Administrator Nastri, can be summed up thusly - "the public wasn't in any danger, we're looking into it, and promise it won't happen again." If you want a copy of the letter, contact me at cpmaz[at] and I'll be happy to forward the email to you, with the attachments, or let Vicki know at vicki.rosen[at] and she'll add you to the NIBW mailing list.

The NIBW Communication Plan at the link.

Previous posts here and here.


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