The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality learned Dec. 2 that drinking water test results of Johnson Utilities water exceeded the federal drinking water standard for nitrate.
Because Johnson Utilities had not contacted ADEQ or responded to ADEQ inquiries at that time, ADEQ is not able to verify whether Johnson Utilities has completed the required notification to its customers about this important water quality concern.
ADEQ in a press release said customers should not give the water to infants under 6 months old or use it to make infant formula.
Water sample results collected 10/27/2016 and 11/21/2016 showed nitrate levels of 12 mg/L and 11.4 mg/L, respectively. This is above the nitrate standard, or maximum contaminant level (MCL), of 10 mg/L. Nitrate in drinking water is a serious health concern for infants less than 6 months old, according to the release.
The Queen Creek Independent has requested updated information from ADEQ.
In a statement posted at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 2 on the Johnson Utilities website, utility owner George Johnson said his water is safe to drink.
“The condition that existed in a small portion of our water distribution system discovered during the annual nitrate testing on 10/27/2016 and with the confirmation sample performed on 11/21/2016 no longer exists today. Our water is under the allowable limits for nitrates and is safe to drink. Repeat samples more recently show that the nitrate levels were far below the maximum allowable limit. We believe the original samples were not correctly performed or read and we have sampled twice since then. Our water is safe to drink,” Mr. Johnson said in the post.
Nitrate in drinking water can come from natural, industrial, or agricultural sources (including septic systems and run-off), according to the ADEQ release. Levels of nitrate in drinking water can vary throughout the year. ADEQ recommended the following:
What should I do? What does this mean?
- DO NOT GIVE THE WATER TO INFANTS. Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of the MCL could become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue baby syndrome. Blue baby syndrome is indicated by blueness of the skin. Symptoms in infants can develop rapidly, with health deteriorating over a period of days. If symptoms occur, seek medical attention immediately.
- Water, juice, and formula for children under 6 months of age should not be prepared with tap water. Bottled water or other water low in nitrates should be used for infants until further notice.
- DO NOT BOIL THE WATER. Boiling, freezing, filtering or letting water stand does not reduce the nitrate level. Excessive boiling can make the nitrates more concentrated because nitrates remain behind when the water evaporates.
- Adults and children older than 6 months can drink the tap water (nitrate is a concern for infants because they can’t process nitrates in the same way adults can). However, if you are pregnant or have specific health concerns, you may wish to consult your doctor.
What is being done?
ADEQ is unable to determine what corrective action Johnson Utilities may be performing at this time and is continuing attempts to contact the company to determine what actions they have taken.
ADEQ urges Johnson Utilities’ customers who have questions to contact the company directly: Katherine Nierva, Johnson Utilities, 480-998-3300
ADEQ requested people share this information with all people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.