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LCU Issues 2016 Drinking Water Report 2017

This month, Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) distributed Consumer Confidence Reports (CCRs), which are mailed out to every home and business receiving water pumped, processed, and delivered by LCU. Every community in the nation receives a CCR explaining where drinking water comes from and providing very detailed information about the quality of water– including all “contaminants.” Anything in drinking water that is not H2O, is considered a contaminant, whether or not it is harmful.

One listing that attracts attention is arsenic, so it’s important to understand where that number comes from. “Arsenic in the LCU 2016 CCR is listed at 5.8 parts per billion (ppb),” says Joshua Rosenblatt, BSc MPA, LCU regulatory and environmental analyst. “That is the highest listing from any one of the 29 wells providing us with water. The reality is our wells show an arsenic range from zero to 5.8 ppb.”

“The LCU water system provides blended water to our customers from all the wells. Our system is designed to ensure the entire city has water, even if one well if off-line for repairs or reconstruction,” adds Rosenblatt. “No one part of the city is ever left without water for an extended period – even in an emergency situation such as a massive fire that may use hundreds of thousands of gallons of water battling a blaze at one location.”

Considering the blending of water from all the wells, the net effect at any tap in the city is a reading far below the 5.8 ppb measurement, which is also well below the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of 10 ppb allowed by the Safe Drinking Water Act. (To understand 1 ppb, you might think of one second out of 32 years.) The most recent readings from 2017 show the one well with highest arsenic reading at 5.6 ppb – that number will be published in next year’s CCR.

“It is important to understand also,” Rosenblatt continues, “that the arsenic in our water is naturally-occurring, a result of erosion of the rock formations all around us resulting in very tiny amounts in the water in our aquifers. Our waters are also naturally buffered so leaching of natural mineral salts is minimal compared to geographic regions containing loamy acidic organic soils.”

In the nation’s Northeast, for example, decades of industrial pollutants dumped into rivers and that have acidic loamy soils have created an entirely different scenario: “The state of New Jersey now has some of the most stringent arsenic levels,” explains Rosenblatt, “and has recently dropped the acceptable level of arsenic to 5 ppm. That’s after surveys by the New Jersey Geological Survey found levels as high as 60 – 80 ppb in some private wells.” Arsenic had been widely used in the past as a pesticide and still is used as a wood preservative compound. “States are always able to set more stringent regulations than federal Safe Drinking Water Act standards to address conditions unique to their region,” adds Rosenblatt.

In our region, you can be confident that LCU and the deep groundwater resources of the Mesilla and Jornada Bolsons continue to provide our community with safe drinking water that fully complies with all SDWA standards.

Thank you for taking the time to read the CCR sent to your home or business. If you have additional questions, contact Water Administrator, Adrienne L. Widmer, P.E., at (575) 528-3514.

Copies of the 2016 CCRs are available in Customer Service at City Hall, 700 N. Main St., the Branigan Library, 200 E. Picacho Ave., NMED, and New Mexico Department of Health Offices. All six versions of the report issued this year (and from all prior years) are available immediately by accessing the City website at www.las-cruces.org under “Hot Topics” on the front page of the website.

You can reach Las Cruces Utilities at 575/528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Las Cruces Utilities provides gas, water, wastewater, and solid waste services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces area residents and businesses.