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Water source for mobile home park contains high levels of arsenic

March 25, 2010
  • Residents of the Southwood Manor mobile home park were notified last week that their water exceeds federal regulations for arsenic. (Dan Carpenter/KTUU-DT)
Residents of the Southwood Manor mobile home park were notified last week that their water exceeds federal regulations for arsenic. (Dan Carpenter/KTUU-DT)

by Lori Tipton
Wednesday, March 24, 2010

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The water at a mobile home park in South Anchorage contains elevated arsenic levels that violate federal Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Four years ago the EPA lowered the limit for arsenic levels in drinking water from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion.

Southwood Manor has slightly exceeded that standard since it was changed, but is just now letting residents know what's going on.

Tamara Marsh says she has worried about what's in the water ever since she moved into the mobile park in October of 2005.

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"The water coming out of the tap, sometimes it has a really brownish color," she said.

No matter how hard she tries, Marsh can't keep her dishwasher from looking dingy.

"If it's doing this to the dishwasher, I worry what is it doing to the insides of everybody's body that consumes this water," she said, showing the inside of her dishwasher, which had brown streaks.

Southwood Manor sent a letter to all residents last week with important information regarding the park's water source.

It was required by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to let everyone know that the natural mineral arsenic, which can be a powerful poison, is in the water.

"I was wondering why they were telling us this because they've never put a note on our door like that before," Marsh said.

According to Southwood Manor's manager, the mobile home park's water source has always had naturally occurring arsenic at a level of approximately 15 parts per billion.

He says the park was fine until the EPA lowered the standards.

In the letter, manager Darrell Kalmakoff said, "Southwood Manor is committed to complying with the new regulation, and you as our customer, have a right to know what you should do and what is being done to correct the situation." 

The state Department of Health says drinking water with arsenic in excess of the maximum contaminant level over many years could cause skin damage or problems to the circulatory system. And it may put people at a greater risk for certain cancers.

"I was just diagnosed with cancer last summer and I had to have surgery and is this arsenic the cause of my cancer?" Marsh questioned.

"I'm kind of afraid to drink this water but I don't have a choice because I live here," she said.

Marsh says she hopes the park will look at alternative sources to improve the water quality.

The park says it will soon experiment with different types of water treatments in hopes of fixing the arsenic problem. It says residents will be kept up to date with a quarterly progress report.

Contact Lori Tipton at ltipton@ktuu.com

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