Drinking water meets all standards
December 21, 2005
Store director Mike Holm isn’t worried about bottled-water sales at Dan’s Foods, even as City Hall received notification that its drinking-water system complies with federal standards.
Holm predicts that Parkites will still buy their Aquafina or San Pellegrino rather than drink water out of the tap.
"I don’t care what they do to their drinking-water system, people will still buy bottled water," Holm said, noting that half of the store’s orders to Pepsi are for Aquafina, the soft-drink giant’s bottled water.
The local government has for years been trying to clean its drinking water of contaminants like arsenic and antimony, which are primarily left over from the city’s mining heyday.
City Hall recently won the compliance declaration from the state Division of Drinking Water. In an announcement, the government said, "Over the past four years, the Park City Water Department has been working on water quality issues and has been successful in these endeavors."
The city has long been worried about the quality of its water and Park City Councilors and government staffers have made water a priority.
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Spiro Tunnel, a major water source on the western edge of the city, is contaminated with arsenic and antimony. The city has installed a treatment system at the site and Kathy Dunks, the city’s water manager, reports that the system is successfully cleaning the water.
According to Dunks, the system reduces the amount of arsenic in the water from between 40 and 80 parts per billon before treatment to 4 parts per billion afterward. The federal standard for arsenic in January will drop from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion, she said.
Antimony is charted at between 8 and 9 parts per billion in the water before it is blended with other water sources but is reduced to between 0 and 6 parts per billion afterward. The federal standard for antimony is 6 parts per billion. The city has agreed to test water samples for antimony levels each quarter for now on.
"They should feel very confident because we meet all water-quality standards," Dunks said about Parkites.
Dunks said the city installed arsenic-removal filters at the Spiro site and built what is known as a ‘clear well,’ which allows the water to be blended. Crews installed the equipment in the summer and it was operational in July.
People who drink water containing antimony for years could experience an increase in cholesterol and a decrease in blood sugar and, in high levels, arsenic can cause cancer and it is known to cause skin damage and problems in the circulatory system.
"That was huge, to come into compliance," said Ken Bousfield, the compliance manager at the state Division of Drinking Water, who has been involved as City Hall developed a plan to treat the water and describes the city as cooperative.
He said close to 40 water systems in Utah do not comply with the tighter arsenic standards.
"It’s just that confidence that the city is below that, so all is well," he said about the arsenic readings.
At Dan’s, Holm said bottled-water sales have been climbing between 3 and 5 percent annually in the last few years and predicts that sales will continue to rise. He calls bottled water a "status symbol" and said Parkites enjoy the quality of the more expensive waters.
"People are a little concerned about (water quality) so they buy bottled water," he said.
Mayor Dana Williams is pleased that the drinking-water standards are now met, saying that, when he won the mayor’s office in 2001, water quality was the most important issue to voters.
"I see it as a huge success. Water was the No. 1 thing on our priority list," Williams said, adding that he "would rank this up in the top" of his first-term accomplishments.
He said Parkites should not be worried about drinking water from their tap.
"They should know when they turn on their tap all EPA levels are at or under federal requirements," the mayor said.