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EPA & City of Phoenix Celebrate Successful Drinking Water Project

Release Date: 7/11/2003
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, (415) 947-4248

     PHOENIX -- At an event today at the Arizona Falls, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the city of Phoenix lauded the successful completion of a three-year drinking water project aimed at addressing taste and odor issues in the city's water.

     As part of a joint EPA and state settlement in 2000, Phoenix agreed to spend $1.2 million on environmental  projects that would improve the taste and odor of the drinking water.
     The city of Phoenix's Water Services department, along with Arizona State University, the Salt River Project and the Central Arizona Project conducted algal studies, established a highly-advanced water monitoring network and sampling, and tested certain treatment techniques.  

     Treatment techniques included canal brushing to remove naturally occurring compounds that impact taste and odor, direct application of copper sulfate onto algae growth, and the use of powdered activated carbon during water treatment to improve taste and odor.  The city also blended CAP and SRP water to take advantage of lower levels of taste and odor compounds, and shared a management guidance manual with other Valley cities to assist with controlling taste and odor.

     "This is an excellent example of how an enforcement action goes beyond paying a penalty -- it improved the taste and odor of the drinking water for Phoenix residents," said Wayne Nastri, the EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest.  "When enforcement translates into environmental improvements, everyone in the community benefits."
     "Professionalism and teamwork, by all involved agencies, led to a direct benefit to our customer's every day lives," said Mike Gritzuk, director of Phoenix's Water Services Department.  "We will continue to build upon these positive results."

     "Although aesthetics and water quality are separate issues, Phoenix understands that the two are linked in our customer's thoughts, particularly since many Phoenix residents hail from elsewhere in the country and bring a variety of water taste and odor perceptions with them, said Claude Mattox, chairman of Phoenix's Natural Resources Subcommittee.  "It is our pleasure to continue to enhance our high quality water and we are thankful for the cooperation of so many agencies."

     Neighboring cities of Tempe, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Glendale, Mesa, Peoria and Chandler were also involved and benefited from the project.    

     The settlement was reached after the EPA cited the city of Phoenix for failing to consistently comply with state and federal regulations on drinking water monitoring and reporting between 1993 and 1996.

    The $350,000 settlement constituted the largest drinking water fine in Arizona history.