Wed, June 26

Letter: City needs to take offensive on public health threat


With a water rate increase all but certain once the Aug. 17 public meeting is out of the way, it is time for the Cottonwood City Council, as a matter of public policy, to establish a date by when it will have cleaned up the contaminated water it is supplying to over 9,000 households. It is also time for the Council to make the public’s health the city’s first priority.

Water users have received formal warning notices from the city in April and July of this year stating that the water it is supplying to the community is violating drinking water standards because of high arsenic content.

In some instances, tests on city wells are showing arsenic levels at four times the acceptable level for drinking water.

The city warns that “people who drink water containing arsenic in excess of the maximum contaminant level over many years could experience skin damage or problems with their circulatory system, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.” It also warns that if “you have specific health concerns, consult your doctor” before consuming city water.

Despite millions of dollars in water department reserves, the city has been dragging its feet since 2004 on cleaning up the arsenic laden water system.

Before the city spends another nickel on expanding the water system at a cost of $2 million, building a new City Hall at a cost of $5 million, or constructing a second sewer plant for $8 million, it must put an end to this known public health threat.

Let’s see if the Council will have the courage to publicly set a date to end water contamination of the city drinking water.

It would seem that setting a date to end a serious public health threat shouldn’t be any more challenging than raising water rates.

Bob Oliphant