Even though the USEPA lowered the maximum contaminant level for arsenic in drinking water to 10ppb (parts per billion) several years ago, many people still find themselves plagued by water containing much higher than acceptable levels of arsenic — because they get their water from a private well.

If only one person used and owned the well tainted with arsenic, the responsibility for periodic testing for arsenic in drinking water and remediation of the well water (if needed) would fall on the shoulders of the well owner. Open and shut case.

What happens, though, when a small collection of users share the well and a third party owns the well?

Situations just like that happen all the time and recently some State lawmakers in California have decided to see what they can do to get safe drinking water into the homes of people currently in those situations.

Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit and state Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez toured mobile home parks across the eastern Coachella Valley Saturday, to better grasp the widespread problem of arsenic-contaminated groundwater there.

“We’re here to work together to try to solve these problems,” Pérez told about 40 residents at the 80-unit Sunbird park in Thermal. Thousands of east valley residents live in areas that potentially contain hazardous levels of arsenic in their groundwater, a recent Desert Sun report found.

“It’s just a matter of the political will” to provide those residents with safe drinking water, Pérez said.

The strategy likely will involve a mix of short- and long-term water fixes, officials said.

At the 96-unit St. Anthony’s mobile home park in Mecca, officials showed Benoit and Pérez a “reverse-osmosis” filter — resembling a more advanced kind of tap-water purifier — that could be installed at each trailer to remove the arsenic.

The filters, priced around $135 to $300 apiece, could serve as short-term solutions in large parks like St. Anthony’s while valley officials consider a proposed pipeline that will serve many east valley parks roughly from Vista Santa Rosa to Mecca, estimated to cost $22 million.

Such a pipeline is years away, though, given the economic recession and budget deficits, officials said.

The reverse osmosis filters could be a permanent fix for the arsenic woes at smaller, remote parks to the southeast, where it’s not feasible to connect to the Coachella Valley Water District’s water supply, said Sergio Carranza, a longtime advocate for east valley water issues.

The local lawmakers also toured Desert Mobile Home Park, known as “Duroville,” where several thousand residents still drink water from wells testing at 26 parts per billion arsenic levels, officials there said. State and federal officials say water testing above 10 parts per billion is unsafe if ingested regularly over decades.

After the tour, Benoit and Pérez agreed that to solve the east valley’s arsenic problem, valley officials and water agencies first must unite under a regional water quality board.

That would give the area access to more grants and funding, to help ensure thousands of east valley residents have clean, arsenic-free drinking water, they said.

St. Anthony’s resident Francisco Mendez said he’s lived at the park for about 25 years, and he worries how the park’s arsenic-contaminated water might affect his four children, ages 5 months to 12 years.

Mendez said he was encouraged by the lawmakers’ visit and that safe conditions at the park are long overdue.

“We’re people who work in the fields, in construction,” Mendez said. “We pay taxes. We have rights.” ( source )

It may take a while for programs to get set up for those people and others like them but at least someone with a little political power has taken an interest in their situation. Hopefully the necessary changes in policy (and enforcement) won’t take too long and become a reality.

Testing Your Well Water for Arsenic

we cannot emphasize enough that the responsibility for the quality of the water coming from a private well rests solely with the well’s owner and that public policy set forth by the USEPA in no way, shape or form applies to private wells. In other words, if your well water has arsenic concentrations greater than 10ppb, no one from the government will send you a warning letter telling you about the problem.

The USEPA, health officials, and well water organizations all suggest that well owners have their water tested annually for contaminants — including arsenic.

Options for Arsenic in Well Water Testing

As usual we will tell you that no form of drinking water testing can, or should ever, take the place of drinking water testing performed by a certified water testing laboratory if you have good reason to suspect that dangerous levels of contaminants may have gotten into your water supply.

For all other times though, a simple at-home drinking water test kit from the Arsenic Quick line of field-ready arsenic test kits may work just fine.

Arsenic Quick test kits claim to have the shortest testing time on the market, an independently verified testing procedure, the simplest test instructions, and the safest reagents.

You can find more information about Arsenic Quick test kits on the following web sites:

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