A recent article written by Tom Kane of The River Reporter discussed the details surrounding higher than allowed arsenic levels in drinking water distributed in the Honesdale, Pennsylvania area.

We would like to note, though, that unlike in other situations we have heard about where companies/municipalities either deny or try to pass the blame for high arsenic readings, Aqua Pennsylvania appears to have stepped up to the plate and accepted responsibility for correcting the problem.

HONESDALE, PA — Residents of Honesdale were alarmed when a long article that appeared on the front page of The New York Times on Thursday, December 17 cited the high, illegal levels of arsenic in Honesdale’s drinking water.

The Honesdale water company, Aqua Pennsylvania, was not mentioned in the article itself but was cited on a map of the nation as one of 12 locations that had these unaccepted levels of the dangerous chemical, which can cause cancer. More information that repeated the arsenic levels and six other contaminants that were within legal limits were contained at a link on the Times’ website, www.nytimes.com/water

“The state changed the national chemical level for arsenic about 10 years ago, lowering it and making it stricter,” said Steve E. Clark, Honesdale manager of Aqua Pennsylvania.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lowered the legal level of arsenic from 50 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 ppb 10 years ago, making it much stricter and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) now enforces this standard in the state, according to Mark Carmon, DEP spokesman.

Aqua Pennsylvania took over the original Honesdale Water Company last October and has plans to correct the arsenic problem, Clark said.

“The poor levels of arsenic are limited to only one well—the Quarry Well at the top of Brown Street,” he said. “The contamination is occurring naturally and is not the result of any manufacturing or industrial activity.”

According to the Times article, the legal standard for contamination of arsenic set by the Safe Drinking Water Act revealed that the level in Honesdale is around 16 ppb.

“We are in the middle of a construction project for an arsenic treatment plant for that well,” Clark said. Carmon confirmed that the DEP had issued a permit for Aqua to do the work.

The Quarry Well serves about 200 people, he said.

“When we tested the raw water at the well, it was slightly higher than the legal level,” he said. “When we tested the water at the first house that it serves, it was way under.”

Clark said that his staff analysts have evidence that the contamination is caused by things like tree stumps.

Construction of the treatment plant has already begun and should be completed in a few months. ( source )

Since arsenic occurs naturally in the environment, pretty much any ground water can become tainted with arsenic. Periods of heavy rain, periods of drought, earthquakes, volcanic activity, and a host of other natural phenomenon can all result in increased arsenic concentrations in ground water.

For the longest time testing for arsenic in drinking water, or any type of water for that matter, required the use of specialized equipment and somewhat hazardous chemicals as well as a bit of training in a laboratory setting.

The Arsenic Quick™ line of arsenic test kits greatly simplified the arsenic testing process by cutting the number of reagents down to three, using much safer reagents, drastically shortening test times, and removing the need for special glassware and equipment.

Whether you work in a water treatment facility and need to perform regular testing or own a private well and want to make sure the arsenic levels in your drinking water have not risen above the current USEPA Maximum Contaminant Level of 10ppb (parts per billion), definitely take a look at the Arsenic Quick™ test kits.

EPA/ETV Test Verified performance, test times as short as 12 minutes, the safest reagents possible (zinc powder, a food grade acid, monopersulfate), simple test procedures, and the fact that everything a person needs to perform on-the-spot arsenic in water testing comes in a convenient carrying case make Arsenic Quick™ the obvious choice.

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