To supply water to our customers, Far West Water & Sewer, Inc. (Far West) typically blends surface water from the Colorado River with groundwater from wells. Far West treats surface water supplies at its main water treatment facility. Groundwater is not required to be treated. In order to maintain safe drinking water, Far West adds chlorine to both the surface water and groundwater.
Far West receives its Colorado River water from the Yuma Mesa Irrigation and Drainage District. River water is transported from the District’s canal to our raw water pumping station. The District normally performs annual maintenance on the canal each November, which requires the canal to shut down for 7-10 days. During this period, Far West supplies only well water to its customers.
On July 6, 2021, the District informed Far West that it would have to shut down its canal for an unscheduled repair, expected to last 3-5 days. The District shut down the canal on July 15, 2021, and returned it to service on the night of July 19, 2021. Far West had no control over this outage or its duration.
With the unplanned District canal shutdown, groundwater became the only source of water available to Far West and its customers. Both surface water and groundwater naturally contain Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), typically salt. For Far West, the amount of TDS in groundwater is significantly higher than the amount of TDS in surface water. The unplanned canal closure required Far West to exclusively use groundwater during this high-demand summer period, and due to the high level of demand, Far West was required to rely on backup wells with higher levels of TDS than its normally utilized wells.
Far West understands that higher levels of TDS negatively impact drinking water aesthetic quality and is not desirable for delivery to our customers. We would not have delivered water with higher levels of TDS if there was any other option during the canal shutdown. Far West’s groundwater resource is, and has always remained, in full compliance with all federal and state regulatory requirements for drinking water. High levels of TDS are not considered health threatening. TDS does not have a set Maximum Contaminant Limit (MCL) and is therefore not regulated or enforced by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality requires Far West to sample and report on its water supplies on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually basis. Far West is in full compliance with this requirement. The Department also regularly inspects Far West’s facilities and operations to ensure that it is operating properly and providing safe drinking water for all our customers.
Below is a link to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Act site discussing Drinking Water Regulations.