Arsenic in Crane Water Supply

By Camaron Abundes  
NewsWest 9

CRANE- Tap water is off limits in the Willingham house after Christi Willingham learned Arsenic levels exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's maximum contaminant level. The family installed a water purification system and stopped drinking city water.

"My baby was an infant, he was three months old when we found out Crane had arsenic in the water," she said.

Even though the City is making strides, it dropped from 0.015 mg/L in early 2007 to 0.014 mg/L, Willingham says she wants to see it below the EPA's 0.010 mg/L.

"I want it 100 percent gone, I am just that kind of person, before I am going to let [the kids] drink it," she said the family spends about 200 dollars a year to maintain the purification system, "To most people that isn't a lot of money, but to us it is a lot of money."

Dru Gravens who handles Crane's water supply says the City is working to fix the problem. They've been sampling various wells, trying to find some of the City's 52 wells with lower levels of Arsenic in order to blend and dilute the wells with higher levels of the contaminant. If the blending process doesn't work, Gravens says they may have to look into costly water treatment plans that may cost upwards of $750,000 dollars.

The Annual Drinking Water Quality Report scared Edward Ornelas into buying bottled water each week.

"I myself had skin cancer, before so it kind of worried me," Ornelas said.

According to the annual report, cancer patients, infants, the elderly and those who have compromised immune systems may be more vulnerable to the contaminants. The report encourages people to consult their doctors before drinking the water.

"I use it for cooking or stuff. My wife, hesitates about using the drinking water," Hector Diaz, said.

Jed Barker, Regional Director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says it's not unusual to find arsenic in West Texas Water. Barker says many Permian Basin city's must treat their water for high Arsenic levels.

"I suspect it's going to be a fairly long process, because they're going to have to come up with funding maybe some grant money, and certainly the State and EPA will work with them as long as we can see they're are heading in the direction of reducing arsenic," he said adding, "It's over the limit, so they need to address it, but it's not life threatening."

The city will answer any questions about the water at a meeting on July 14th.