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Tucson Water Quality Report

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Sources Of Drinking Water in Tucson, Arizona

 Where does Tucson get its water from? Colorado River water is one of our most abundant renewable water resources. Beginning high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming, the Colorado River provides water for seven states, including Arizona, before it enters the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. Tucson’s portion of Colorado River water, about 44 billion gallons each year, comes to us through the Central Arizona Project canal, a 335-mile long channel that begins near Lake Havasu, passes through the Phoenix area and rural Pinal County, and ends about 15 miles south of Tucson. Construction began in 1973 and took more than 20 years to complete. 

We currently use about 20 billion gallons of Colorado River water a year. Most of this supply is put into specially constructed basins in Avra Valley at the Clearwater Renewable Resource Facility. Here the water sinks into the earth (recharges) and blends with the native groundwater beneath. This blend is then recovered by a number of wells and pumped through an 11 1/2-mile long pipeline to the Hayden-Udall Treatment Plant. From there it’s piped to the Tucson Water distribution system. The use of this blended water has let us reduce our reliance on groundwater. Tucson Water has put a number of wells in central Tucson on stand-by, allowing our water table to begin recovering from decades of over pumping. With Clearwater essentially complete, more than half of all the water delivered annually by Tucson Water is now coming from this facility. More projects like Clearwater will be needed in the future to provide ways to fully use the remainder of our Colorado River water allocation. Is Tucson's water safe to drink?

Source: City of Tucson

Contaminants Found in Tucson's Water Supply

(Detected above health guidelines)

Perfluorinated Chemicals

Perfluorinated chemicals are a group of synthetic compounds used in hundreds of products from nonstick pans to stain-repellent clothing, wire coatings and firefighting foam.

Chromium (hexavalent)

Chromium (hexavalent) is a carcinogen that commonly contaminates American drinking water. Chromium (hexavalent) in drinking water may be due to industrial pollution or natural occurrences in mineral deposits and groundwater. Read more about chromium (hexavalent).

Radiological contaminants

This utility detected Radium, combined (-226 & -228), Radium-228 & Uranium. Radiological contaminants leach into water from certain minerals and from mining. Drinking water contamination with radioactive substances increases the risk of cancer and may harm fetal development.

Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

Trihalomethanes are cancer-causing contaminants that form during water treatment with chlorine and other disinfectants. The total trihalomethanes group includes four chemicals: chloroform, bromodichloromethane, dibromochloromethane and bromoform. 

Potential Health Effects of Consuming These Contaminants

Health risks of Perfluorinated Chemicals in excess of health guideline

Endocrine Disruption | Cancer:  These chemicals have been linked to endocrine disruption, accelerated puberty, liver and immune system damage, thyroid changes, and cancer risk. Sometimes referred to as PFC, PFOA, PFOS, or PFCs.

Health risks of Simazine in excess of health guideline

Hormone Disruption: Simazine is a hormone-disrupting herbicide related to atrazine. It affects the male and female reproductive systems. In studies of laboratory animals, simazine increases blood levels of estrogen, decreases prolactin and progesterone, and causes mammary and ovarian tumors.

Health risks of Chromium (hexavalent) in excess of the health guidelines

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.02 ppb for chromium (hexavalent) was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a public health goal, the level of a drinking water contaminant that does not pose a significant health risk. This health guideline protects against cancer.

Health risks of Radiological contaminants in excess of the health guidelines

Cancer: Radiological contaminants leach into water from certain minerals and from mining. Drinking water contamination with radioactive substances increases the risk of cancer and may harm fetal development.

Health risks of Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) in excess of the health guidelines 

Cancer: The health guideline of 0.8 ppb for trihalomethanes was defined by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a draft public health goal, the level of drinking water contaminant that does not pose a significant health risk. This health guideline protects against cancer.

Contaminant Levels Compared to Other Regions

Perfluorinated Chemicals (Status): No national drinking water standard exists. This utility detected Perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHXS), Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) & Perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHPA). Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) is a member of a group of perfluorinated chemicals used in many consumer products. PFOS and other perfluorinated chemicals can cause serious health effects, including cancer, endocrine disruption, accelerated puberty, liver and immune system damage, and thyroid changes. These chemicals are persistent in the environment and they accumulate in people.

Chromium (hexavalent)

 - Health Guideline: 0.02 ppb

 - National: 0.782 ppb

 - State: 4.69 ppb

 - Tucson, AZ: 2.33 ppb

Simazine

 - Health Guideline: 0.1 ppb

 - National: 0.00159 ppb

 - State: 0.000705 ppb

 - Tucson, AZ: 0.110 ppb

Radiological Contaminants

 - No standard exists for this contaminant which cannot be good.

Total trihalomethanes (TTHMs)

 - Health Guideline: 0.8 ppb

 - State: 13.6 ppb

 - National: 23.7 ppb

 - Tucson, AZ: 12.5 ppb

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April Jones

A hiker, blogger, and water quality expert...

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