TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Reports that Tucson Water delivered contaminated water to 60,000 customers has the utility defending itself and hoping to assure customers the water is safe to drink.
“No unsafe water was ever delivered,” Tucson Water Director Tim Thomure told Tucson News Now. “We didn’t deliver water by mistake.”
The utility admitted there was an error at one of its sampling locations dating back to 2000, but it did not result in contaminated water being delivered to any homes.
The water contained perflorinated chemicals, but Thomure said none of the water ever exceeded the federal legal limits of 70 parts per trillion.
“There was a problem with one sampling location,” Thomure said. “That does not mean there is a problem with water quality.”
Steve Kozachik, the Tucson city council member representing Ward 6, said there’s no need for further investigation because Tucson Water has “owned the mistake.”
And he said the standards are still a matter of question.
“The reality is, the Trump EPA doesn’t even have a binding contamination level,” Kozachik said.
Kozachik suggested filing suit against the chemical makers, 3M.
The current standard of 70 parts per trillion was established in 2016 but a recent study suggests the standard for drinking water should be lowered to 18 parts per trillion. That standard has not been officially adopted and there are no signals when, or if, it will.
Ward 1′s Regina Romero, whose district was also affected, said “I want to know what the breakdown in communication was.”
She also added that she wants “a clarification to the community in English and Spanish that the health of the public was not jeopardized.”
Which is the intent of Tucson Water.
“I can’t tell you Tucson Water has never made mistakes,” Thomure said.
He said when they discovered the error, it was corrected.
Perflorinated chemicals, or PFCs, are man-made chemicals used in Teflon, firefighting foams, stainless carpeting and furniture, paint, wax and some food wrappings.
While not much is known about how they react in the body, it’s generally considered that a build-up over time can lead to “adverse health effects.”
Some of the council members, including Kozachik, have been critical of Tucson Water for not keeping them informed when the issue was first discovered.
“I take full responsibility for that,” Thomure said. “It won’t happen again.”