On Feb. 21, 2014, Arizona Water Company, which owns and operates the water system in Hayden and Winkelman, sent the following letter to John Hillenbrand, project manager for the United States Environmental Protection Agency. A copy of the letter was also sent to theCopper Basin News.
TheCopper Basin Newsrequested a response from Tom Aldrich of Asarco. His comments are included below.
Arizona Water Company’s letter
Arizona Water Company (“Arizona Water”) is very concerned about the serious threat to local drinking water supplies caused by pollutants from the ASARCO mining operations in the Hayden and Winkelman area. Arizona water, a public service corporation, relies on local groundwater supplies to provide water service to residents and businesses in the Town of Winkelman. In December 2013, ASARCO began quarterly sampling of Arizona Water’s wells to assess the threat of pollution in local groundwater.
Arizona Water requests the following as the Phase II Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (“RIFS”) is developed:
1. Provide Arizona Water with all monthly progress reports ASARCO submits to EPA pursuant to the Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent.
2. Provide all groundwater quality data gathered or compiled in connection with any phase of the RIFS for this site.
3. Provide Arizona Water with all future drafts of the RIFS for Arizona Water’s review, input and comments.
4. Provide copies of reports from the previous EPA investigations of ASARCO’s mining operations in the Hayden/Winkelman area, including, but not limited to, the Preliminary Assessment.
5. Add PCBs on the list of substances analyzed in groundwater samples in the Phase II RIFS.
6. Form a Community Advisory Group including EPA, Arizona Water and ASARCO to encourage community involvement for timely distribution of information. The Community Advisory Group should conduct regular meetings to review the progress and findings of the Phase II RIFS.
7. Require ASARCO to create and maintain a public information repository such as a community website, where all information on the investigation and related matters is readily available.
It is critical that EPA determine the fate and transport of the pollutants from ASARCO’s mining operations and their effect on Arizona Water’s groundwater supplies, the only source of drinking water for Winkelman. Arizona Water strongly urges EPA and ASARCO to take all actions necessary to protect the groundwater for public drinking water supply purposes.
EPA has previously stated the drinking water supply for the Towns of Hayden and Winkelman meet drinking water quality standards.
Each year the ADEQ samples public water supplies. Those results are presented in the Consumer Confidence Report which is issued by the operator of the public water system.
The Consumer Confidence Report for Asarco’s PWS #04-012, which gets its water from the Hayden Well Field indicates that the water meets water quality standards.
The wells for the Arizona Water Company are roughly one mile upstream on the Gila. The link for the Consumer Confidence Report for Winkelman is found on the Arizona Water Company web page (link below). The report states that the Arizona Water Company provides groundwater to its Winkelman customers from wells located throughout the Winkelman area. The water supplied by Arizona Water Company complies with all state and federal safe drinking water standards.
Sampling of groundwater is routinely done as part of EPA’s investigation.