Residents of a trailer park in Rimrock received a shock when they woke Jan. 6: Notices, left on their cars and doors in the middle of the night alerted them that elevated levels of lead had been found in their drinking water system.
The trailer park, located at 2111 E. Beaver Creek Road, is serviced by a private water company, the Beaver Creek Store System No. 130351. According to Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Public Information Officer Caroline Oppleman, the system provides drinking water to approximately 100 people.
The notice provided by the Beaver Creek Store consisted of two parts, both dated Jan. 5:
- A “Lead Public Education” document, apparently generated by the water system itself, which alerted residents to the presence of lead, provided information about the dangers of lead exposure and offered tips about steps to take to mitigate the dangers. The document ended by stating, “The exceedence was discovered during our tri-annual testing in July 2016. We take samples at five locations as required by law. This is the first time we showed an exceedence in lead. One location showed up with higher than acceptable levels. We have no lead lines or fittings in our water system that could contribute to this lead issue.”
- A “Lead Consumer Notice” generated by the ADEQ, which specified that the drinking water in “Space No. 12” had been tested on June 19, resulting in the detection of 0.0036 milligrams of lead per liter of water.
The federal action level specified by the ADEQ is 15 parts per billion, or 0.015 milligrams of lead per liter of water, meaning that the Beaver Creek Store result does not require the system to begin water treatment in remediation.
Regardless, as ADEQ’s notice stated, “Maximum Contaminant Level Goal” for lead in drinking water is zero: “The MCLG is the level of contaminant in drinking water below which there is no known or expected risk to health. The MCLGs allow for a margin of safety.”
Oppleman confirmed that Beaver Creek Store had tested drinking water at five separate sites in June and came back with one lead-positive result. According to Oppleman, the result suggested that the contaminant may have originated from the home’s own plumbing rather than the water system itself.
“They’re saying there’s no lead in our system,” Oppleman said of her read of the letter provided by Beaver Creek Store. “There could be something in the home plumbing.”
Oppleman added that, regardless of the source of contaminant, Beaver Creek Store will now be required to test every six months until it can come back with a lead-negative result. Until then, it will be required to post an ADEQ Lead Consumer Notice.
Residents expressed concern about the notices. Of the six residents interviewed, not one had seen the papers being posted on cars and doors. Some said they were left
overnight, while others said they had been absent at the time.
“It was just put on our car when we weren’t home,” Mike Krill, a resident of the trailer park for four years, reported.
Though he and his wife do not drink the water, the notice worried Krill enough to send him and his wife to a doctor to get blood tests, the results of which are pending. He expressed concern over neighbors, especially those with children, who regularly drink the water.
“In six months, you can drink a lot of lead,” Krill said. “It seems like nobody’s doing anything for us. I don’t see anybody at my door, saying, ‘you need water’ .... We’re trailer trash. We don’t matter.”
Residents Pita O’Daly, Martin Carmona and Debbie Hollingsworth said they had stopped drinking the water as a result of the testing.
Oppleman said that, while the method of delivering the notice might have caused some worry, Beaver Creek Store ultimately did the responsible thing by educating its consumers about the results.
“I think what’s important here is that this water system is letting people know,” Oppleman said. “At this point, they’re doing everything they’re required to do.”
According to ADEQ, Beaver Creek Store is owned or managed by Joanne Pool, at (928) 592-9252.
Despite repeated attempts to reach her by phone, Pool did not respond by press time.
The Camp Verde Journal also reached out to Beaver Creek Regional Council, including its president Kala Pearson, and has yet to receive a response.