Online records: ADEQ finds 2 ‘significant’ deficiencies at Apache Junction water district

Speeches and a ribbon-cutting ceremony were held Nov. 17, 2016, at the city’s Central Arizona Project water treatment plant, Superstition Area Water Plant, which went online Sept. 20 of that year. (Richard H. Dyer, Independent Newsmedia)

[Corrections: The first sentence of this story and the headline incorrectly stated that the deficiencies were found at the Superstition Area Water Plant. They were found at other Apache Junction water district sites. The Independent regrets the errors and any confusion they may have caused. See the latest story at apachejunctionindependent.com/news/apache-junction-water-district-explains-2-significant-deficiencies-adeq-found-in-site-visit.]

The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality on a Dec. 12, 2018, site visit to the Apache Junction water district 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 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 out 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.

Mayor Jeff Serdy, Vice Mayor Chip Wilson and council members Jeff Struble and Christa Rizzi were e-mailed, seeking comment on if they knew “significant” was the highest that ADEQ could list as a deficiency, if they were told what the deficiencies were and should Apache Junction water district customers be concerned about them.

Councilwoman Rizzi and Vice Mayor Wilson responded.

“Thanks for reaching out to me. The city will be responding to your questions,” Councilwoman Rizzi said.

“Passed this to our staff and they will be contacting you about your question,” Vice Mayor Wilson said.

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.”

Mr. Bravo did not in the e-mail answer questions about if the ferric chloride and sulfuric acid used by the system conform to ANSI/NSF Standard 60 and why that information wasn’t available for the inspector; has the screen been fixed, at what cost and what size screen was used before and what now; and why was the lead and copper plan not available for the ADEQ official to see.

“Let us know when you have time so we can explain each item and the process more completely,” Mr. Bravo said in the e-mail.

Water district

The water district supplies well water — groundwater — pumped from the Eastern Salt River Sub-Basin Aquifer, which flows southwesterly under Apache Junction and its surrounding areas. The groundwater is treated for arsenic removal where necessary, disinfected with chlorine, pumped into storage tanks and blended with Colorado River water transported through the Central Arizona Project canal system, according to the district’s website, ajwaterdistrict.org.

The Superstition Area Water Plant went online Sept. 20, 2016. The $9 million project on Ironwood Drive just south of Baseline Road was funded through the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona.

The district was formed by the city of Apache Junction on Aug. 2, 1994, and is responsible for providing water service for approximately 8 square miles and a population of 14,348, which accounts for more than one-third of the city of Apache Junction. The remaining area is served by Arizona Water Company, azwater.com.

Meetings of the Apache Junction Water Utilities Community Facilities District, made up of members of the Apache Junction City Council, are held 6 p.m. the third Tuesday of the month or as needed in the council chambers, 300 E. Superstition Blvd.

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

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