Northeastern Section - 53rd Annual Meeting - 2018

Paper No. 25-6
Presentation Time: 9:45 AM


ZHENG, Yan1, FLANAGAN, Sara V.2 and YANG, Qiang2, (1)School of Env Sci & Engr, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, 5180555, China; Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, Palisades, NY 10964, (2)Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University, 61 Route 9W, Palisades, NY 10964

Arsenic is a recognized public health threat to the private well populations in Maine and New Jersey, yet many remain exposed because they are either not aware, not taking action once they become aware, or not acting effectively to reduce exposure. While biological and socioeconomic vulnerabilities to arsenic demand a public health response, geological and behavioral barriers impede arsenic mitigation. Here, we provide evidence for two often overlooked opportunities to advance the safe water agenda. First, hydrogeological investigations have firmly established an arsenic spatial heterogeneity that often exhibit “point” characteristics at local scales (10–1000 m). The practical implication is that once testing finds a single high arsenic well, there will be other non-compliant wells nearby. For example, we provided well tests to households living within 1000 feet of a known high arsenic well in northern New Jersey and successfully identified clusters of high arsenic wells at much higher rates than random sampling. Second, opportunities exist for the private sector, especially water treatment professionals, as demand for well screening and household treatment grows. It is in the public and private interest to introduce treatment certificate programs and to consider regulations regarding the monitoring and safe disposal of spent media. Smaller water supplies face higher failure rates for arsenic treatment, and there is no smaller supply than a private well. Additionally, reducing groundwater is more difficult to treat as inorganic As(III) and competing anions can interfere. Although cost-effective As treatment technologies are available, it is nevertheless an unregulated market so consumers are left on their own to solve a complex water treatment puzzle. Without the necessary technological expertise afforded by the larger public supply system, the reality is some who have installed As treatment still end up exposed to unsafe water for a variety of reasons, including consumers’ tendency to favor Point-of-Use (POU) RO filters, which are the least technically reliable. Therefore, forming a public-private partnership that encourages testing and further develops a market for arsenic treatment is a win-win for small businesses and private well households.