Elgin Water Supply Has ‘High’ Levels of Arsenic, HHS Says

Elgin residents will, later this week, receive formal notification that the community’s water supply has ‘high’ levels of arsenic.
In accordance with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Regulations Governing Public Water Supply Systems, the consumers of the City of Elgin public water supply system “are hereby notified that the system is in violation of the established drinking water standard for arsenic of 0.010 milligrams per liter (mg/L) for the quarterly period of October 1. 2012 through December 31, 2012.” Arsenic has been measured at annual average concentration of 0.013 mg/L* in routine samp1es collected from the City of Elgin public water system.
*The dates of, and results (average equals 0.015 mg/L) from the actual samples were as follows:
Sample Date          Results
Feb. 2, 2012         0.015 mg/L
March 12, 2012         0.014 mg/L
May 29, 2012         0.012 mg/L
August 27, 2012         0.012 mg/L
November 5, 2012     0.014 mg/L
Some people who drink water containing arsenic in excess of the MCL over many years could experience skin damage or problems with their circulatory system, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.
What should residents do?
• DO NOT BOIL THE WATER. Boiling, freezing. or letting water stand does not reduce the arsenic level. Excessive boiling can make the arsenic more concentrated because arsenic remains behind when the water evaporates.
• There is no need to use an alternative (e.g., bottled) water supply. This is not an immediate risk. The effects associated with exposure to arsenic at these levels are the result of many years of constant exposure. However, if you have health concerns, consult your doctor.
What happened? What is being done?
Arsenic is a metal that occurs naturally in the environment and may occur as a by-product of some agricultural and industrial activities. Arsenic can enter the drinking water through the ground or as run-off into surface water sources.
To remedy the situation, the City of Elgin recently completed a water study, one of the necessary steps to receive financial assistance towards the ultimate goal of finding a new water source.
As part of the process, at their December meeting, the Elgin City Council approved a new rate which will take effect on January 1, 2013. The new rate will be $60 per quarter plus $1.75 per 1,000 gallons used. Water customers will see their quarterly water bills increase by $40 from what they are now. The $1.75 per 1,000 gallons fee is up 25 cents from the current rate. The increase in the water rates is necessary to raise funds to pay for the construction of a new water well to take place in the next couple of years.
Currently, Elgin has some of the lowest monthly water rates among communities with populations between 600 and 800 across Nebraska. The rate is $6.67 a month plus $1.50 per 1,000 gallons of water use. Since the city bills on a quarterly basis, it translates to $20 per quarter plus $1.50 per 1,000 gallons used.
Notices will be mailed out to all residents on Friday, Jan. 4. Included with this notice will be water/sewer/trash bills for the fourth quarter.
Residents are encouraged to share this information with all other people who drink this water who may not have received this notice directly (People in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses).
For additional information regarding this notice, please contact Vicki S. Miller at 402-843-5822.