The Mat Su Borough Assembly has approved the next step in testing for arsenic in the Talkeetna Sewer and Water system.
The ordinance passed on Tuesday, allows manager John Duffy to apply for $500,ooo dollars in the form of a Department of Environmental Conservation grant for the design of a treatment system for arsenic. It also accepts a $47,000 grant from the USDA.
The national standards for arsenic levels in public drinking water across the U.S. changed several years ago. The acceptable levels went from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion. The large drop put Talkeetna out of compliance.
Jeff Welton, with Mat Su Borough public works, said several places in Alaska are now dealing with compliance. According to Chuck Jacobs, Talkeetna’s sewer and water employee, arsenic levels in Talkeenta, at times, have actually been zero. But the levels have slowly risen the past couple of years from about 10 parts per billion to 14 parts per billion.
The DEC compliance issue set Jacobs and Welton in motion to identify the best means to filter the water without adding chlorine and other chemicals.
Welton is assisting Talkeetna in finding sources of funding for the project. In turn, Welton says although DEC is the one that tells utilities that they are out of compliance, they are also helpful in finding funding sources that will help pay to get the system back into compliance.
The worst case scenerio on cost, Welton says, would be about $1.5 million for the filter. However, he says it might be less. The current filtering process they are looking at will also filter manganese, copper and a long list of other undesirable metals. The $47,000 recently received is paying for an engineering review. The half million dollar grant, if received, would help purchase and construct the filter system. ####