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High arsenic levels found at RV park near Cottonwood

Posted at 6:19 PM, Sep 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-12 08:20:17-04

High levels of arsenic in their drinking water has some Yavapai County residents concerned about their health and safety.

ADEQ officials have confirmed the levels of arsenic flowing at taps in the Rio Verde RV park outside of Cottonwood exceed the levels deemed safe by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The issue has been on the state agency's radar for about a year.

"The most recent data we have for them shows that we are exceeding the arsenic standard. The arsenic standard is 10 parts per billion, they are currently at 35," said Trevor Baggiore, the water quality director for ADEQ.

The Rio Verde RV park is considered a state-regulated private utility company, as it provides water to residents in the community. ADEQ said while arsenic was commonly found in Arizona soil when it leaches into groundwater, at very high levels, it could be deemed hazardous to health with prolonged exposure.

State officials said they expect utility companies with arsenic levels that were too high to do their due diligence and inform residents about the problem so people could make their own decision on whether to drink the water or not. They also required the utility company to provide an alternate source of water to residents.

Joshua Dean, a long time resident at the park said staff did provide drinking water but it was not enough. He had to truck water into his residence everyday for personal use.

Dean felt the RV park could do a better job to keep residents and visiting campers aware of the dangerous water.

"I was shocked. I knew about arsenic levels in the water being high, but in a public place like an RV park it floored me that they didn't have anything to take care of the issue," said Dean.

ADEQ officials said the RV park had applied for a construction permit to build a treatment system that would reduce the levels of arsenic in the water. They had 120 days to submit their construction plans to ADEQ for approval.

ADEQ would inspect the system after it was built to make sure it met state standards.

Despite all this, some residents worried how long they had been exposed to the arsenic in their tap water and said the RV park should be working to provide residents with information every step of the way.

"I want to know they're on top of it.  I want to know they'll follow through with it.  We were using that water to drink, to cook with, shower, wash our clothes, make coffee.  It scares the hell out of me and my wife.  I lost a service dog on Super Bowl Sunday.  Now I wonder if it was because he was drinking the water," said Dean.

ADEQ officials will be inspecting the water every few months, until it is seemed safe to drink.