Apache Junction water district explains 2 ‘significant’ deficiencies ADEQ found in site visit

Comments listed at the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality site.

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality on a Dec. 12, 2018, site visit to Apache Junction water district facilities found deficiencies — one “minor” and two “significant,” which is the top category of severity, according to online records.

An air screen was the wrong size mesh, the water district couldn’t show that its ferric chloride and sulfuric acid conformed to American National Standards Institute/National Sanitation Foundation standards and a lead and copper plan was not available for review, the records show.

None impacted the water quality, Al Bravo, Apache Junction public information officer, said.

The minor deficiency was “Well 5’s air vent is not protected with a No. 16 screen – screen’s openings are too big.”

The significant deficiencies, according to the online records, were “ADEQ inspector was not able to verify if the ferric chloride and sulfuric acid used by the system conform to ANSI/NSF Standard 60. System to send document showing chemicals used conform to ANSI/NSF Standard 60” and “A lead and copper plan was not available for review.” The latter was listed as resolved on Dec. 13.

ADEQ lists “significant” as the highest severity, followed by “minor,” “recommendation” and “none.”

Two of the items didn’t show they were resolved until the Independent e-mailed the water district Feb. 11 asking about the site visit. The online records now show the air-vent screen was resolved Dec. 24 and the document showing chemicals used conform to ANSI/NSF Standard 60 on Jan. 4.

The deficiencies were addressed soon after the Dec. 12 site visit, Mr. Bravo said in a Feb. 11 e-mail responding to questions posed to him and Frank Blanco, water district director.

“However, the database did not reflect that they were resolved until we contacted ADEQ today and asked them to update the online database,” he said.

“The ADEQ website now accurately shows that two items listed were addressed immediately after the site visit and the other within three weeks. Two of the items were clerical issues that were easily addressed and the screen was replaced in the other item.”

The Apache Junction City Council, which also sits as the board of directors for the Apache Junction Water Utilities Community Facilities District, was told at its Dec. 18, 2018, meeting by District Superintendent Mike Loggins that there were “no major deficiencies” in the ADEQ inspection, according to the minutes and the video of the meeting.

“Last week we had ADEQ, which is the (Arizona) Department of Environmental Quality, out,” Mr. Loggins said to the board Dec. 18.

“Every three years they come out and do an analysis of our system, just checking out all of our sites, seeing how clean they are, make sure that we have all of our MSDS sheets up, make sure all of our chemicals are in the right locations, everything is labeled, our sites are labeled, our wells are labeled, check out our tanks and just go through the whole process and just do a site inspection. So no major deficiencies. Everything looked good,” he said.

Water district explanations

At the time the board was told in December about the ADEQ inspection, the water district hadn’t been told there were significant concerns, Mr. Blanco said in a phone interview.

“At the time that we did the update at our water board meeting, we didn’t have anything that said there were any significant problems. We didn’t have anything from ADEQ that said what the database showed on it,” he said.

Mr. Loggins at the water district’s Feb. 19 meeting said the initial report by ADEQ listed observations and potential deficiencies and didn’t detail what was significant. Also, the ADEQ explained to him that labeling the items “significant” was required by the EPA.

“On 12/19 we went out there; actually, we received a report of our inspection… As a result, 53 items were inspected, so we go out to every site from our well sites to our booster sites to our treatment sites, look at everything out there, see what potentially could be: If there’s a crack in a slab to a well, if there’s a screen missing, is there something out there that’s not properly done, they’ll talk to us about it, talk about deficiencies, they give us recommendations. There’s different things that we go over when we’re out there, kind of go through that and go back and write up a report, which we received on the 19th,” Mr. Loggins said.

“So then they give us an updated report later, this is what it tells you. It doesn’t tell you what your deficiencies are, it says ‘observations and potential deficiencies,’ so at this point in time, it potentially could become a deficiency but it’s not,” he said.

Water district officials passed examples of the screens to the water district board members in attendance — Jeff Struble, Gail Evans, Jeff Serdy, Christa Rizzi and Robert Schroeder, with Chip Wilson absent and Robin Barker by phone — with Mr. Loggins stating previous ADEQ inspectors had seen the screen and had not identified it as the wrong size.

“That well site had a No. 12 screen on it and it’s supposed to be a No. 16. The difference between a No. 12 screen and a No. 16 screen is less than two-hundredths of an inch, so not a significant number, not extreme,” Mr. Blanco said in the phone interview.

Well No. 5 is at 16th Avenue and Delaware Drive, he said.

“The reason the (No.) 12 was put on there might have been that it was mistaken. They look pretty much the same. The value of something like that? Is about $3. It’s not like we were trying to save money by not putting in the right screen up there. It’s been corrected. For all practical purposes, most people would look at that and would not even — we wouldn’t be able to tell the difference,” he said.

“And I know that the report said the screen openings are too big. Well yeah, they’re too big by less than two-hundredths of an inch. It’s just not a lot, right?” Mr. Blanco said.

He said there were no deficiencies found by ADEQ at the Superstition Area Water Treatment Plant.

“We had an inspection at the plant site, at our well sites — well No. 5, No. 6. The inspector checked out our storage facilities at 16th Avenue and Buena Vista. So the inspector inspected the entire system. So those three items that show up on that database were the only three items that were noted that were important enough for the inspector to put them on the database,” he said.

The ferric chloride and sulfuric acid used by the system do conform to ANSI/NSF Standard 60, Mr. Blanco said.

“Those chemicals are used at Well (No.) 6 for the arsenic-treatment process and the reason that there was no way for the inspector to tell whether or not they were NSF 60 was because those chemicals are delivered in bulk,” he said.

The bulk deliveries come with a bill of lading that is stamped NSF 60, he said.

“The bill of lading goes to the administration office here where I’m at so we can pay the bill, basically, so that’s the reason the inspector was not able to confirm in the field that it had the NSF 60 certification and then requested that and we provided that information to her shortly thereafter,” Mr. Blanco said.

Well No. 6 has not been in operation and is off-line for maintenance, he said.

“So it’s really a non-issue. We were not delivering water from that site, we were not using those chemicals and that NSF 60 was available but it was not available at the site,” he said.

The lead and copper plan is a document that identifies the locations where they are being sampled, he said.

“We’ve been sampling for lead and copper since before the district was formed — when it was a private water company they were sampling for lead and copper. It’s been a requirement for some time,” he said.

“The plan is in place. We’ve been sampling all along and ADEQ has the locations where we sample. We take our samples, we send them the results,” he said.

“The following date the inspector talked to Mike Loggins and the inspector sent over a form. We filled out the form and basically that’s our lead and copper sampling plan. It’s a one-page description of what we’re doing and where the locations are, which they’ve had all along, but a formal copy of a piece of paper that says ‘this is our plan’ they apparently did not have that in place,” Mr. Blanco said.

ADEQ does a site inspection about every three years and before 2018 found no deficiencies, according to the online database.
“In the previous inspection reports that we’ve gotten, that lead and copper plan was never mentioned as being a problem. We were always in compliance. So, as far as we knew, things were OK. As far as we knew, there were no major problems,” Mr. Blanco said.

Editor Richard Dyer can be reached at rdyer@newszap.com

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