Water Quality in El Paso, Texas

The Municipal water of El Paso, Texas, depends on both groundwater and surface water for supply. Supply from groundwater is pumped from the Hueco Bolsons and Mesilla basins, which lie under sections of Texas, New Mexico, Mexico, and Chihuahua. El Paso’s supply of surface water is mainly from the Rio Grande, which makes up half the total portable water supply. The Rio Grande flows are primarily derived from snowmelt runoff in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. The 2019 water report I obtained will give insights on whether El Paso’s water is safe for drinking.

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Lead in Drinking water

Lead finds its way into the tap water via the older lead service pipes and other plumbing that contains lead. Control measures have been put in place to check corrosion, but when they fail, lead reaches into the tap water and accumulate to dangerous levels. Presently, El Paso’s drinking water 90th percentile for the metal lead is 84 ppb (parts per billion).  Although El Paso is presently complying with the regulations put forward by the American Academy of Paediatrics, CDC, and EPA, whereby there are no levels considered safe for children (Hanna-Attisha et al, 2016).  

High levels of Chromium 6

According to the report, levels of Chromium 6 are considerably high, among the highest in US’ major cities. EPA, however, does not regulate this highly toxic metal (Mihaileanu, 2019). Recently, the concentration of chromium 6 in drinking water average 2400 ppt (parts per trillion). To put this into perspective, the levels are higher than the concentration proven to have an insignificant impact on cancer risk by 120 times.

Presence of Disinfection By-Products

Disinfection By-Products (DBPs) are emerging contaminants that occur when chlorine-based disinfectants react with natural organic matter. Even though these contaminants are currently insufficiently regulated, the EPA admits that there are connections with a heightened risk of bladder cancer, in addition to liver, kidney, and CNS complications.

High levels of Arsenic and impacts on health and the environment

I mainly concentrated on the toxic metal known as Arsenic. It is proven to cause cancer and other health issues. Disparate from lead, which gets into the water through plumbing pipes, Arsenic usually comes from the water source. The report indicates that the mean concentration in tap water is 3.5 arsenic parts per billion; there were reports of 9.7 ppb, whereby this was the highest.

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Independent testing from third parties found that these levels exceed the guidelines for Arsenic. The metal in parts of the US occurs naturally in bedrocks and soil. Commercial activities that are likely to have left Arsenic in soil and consequently in water consist of coal ash disposal, use of wood that is pressure-treated wood, and apple orchard spraying. Even at high concentrations, Arsenic has no colour, taste, or smell when dissolved in water; thus, only laboratory examination can indicate its presence and concentration (Mayer, & Goldman, 2016). Significant risks have been associated with chronic exposure to drinking water with Arsenic like lung, bladder, and skin cancer. Additional evidence has indicated an increased risk of prostate and kidney cancer.  

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Arsenic compounds have long-term and short-term impacts on animals, plants, communities, populations, and the environment in general. The impacts are apparent and differ with species affected and the exposure time. The impacts include inhibition of reproduction, photosynthesis, growth, and has behavioural impacts and may cause death. Environments that have arsenic contamination have fewer species and fewer populations within the species. When the levels are very high – only resistant organisms may survive, for example, some microbes.

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Management practices to minimize water pollution

There has been growing concern about pollution of water. The strategy to tackle this has been to adopt best management practices. For the major issue of arsenic contamination, there exist technologies designed to mitigate or completely remove Arsenic from groundwater include adsorption, biological removal, pre-oxidation, and deep tube wells (Hao, 2018). These practices have been proven effective in stable laboratory-scale conditions. However, their evaluation in informing policy-making decisions may show efficiency in practical circumstances.

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Non-point source pollution from Agricultural production, on the other hand, have been acknowledged as significant environmental and water issues. For example, diffuse sources use agricultural fertilizer as such used in apple orchard spraying is an increasing source of water pollution. The best environmental practices that can reduce non-point source pollution include; enacting agricultural codes that deal with the actual cause of the water pollution from agriculture; for example, amount, type, and time of application of pesticides, fertilizers, and manure to give guidelines to the farmers about how they can reduce or even prevent the pollution of water bodies and water sources .According to UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe), good agriculture practices effectively reduce the risk of water pollution and support economic, agricultural activity maintenance. Efficient mitigation of Arsenic needs synchronization across all the sectors connected with the supply of water and public health, incorporating local and central government policy formulators and agencies, NGOs, private and public service providers, international development agencies, local community, and the water users in general. Guided by health-based targets frameworks and independent surveillance, mitigating Arsenic seeks to guarantee sufficient arsenic exposure mitigation.

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