Water Quality in Tucson, Arizona
Watershed: Arroyo Chico – Santa Cruz River
What is the water quality like in Tucson, AZ?
Let’s dive deeper into what’s in Tucson water.
What’s in Tucson water?
Here are the top 6 chemical compounds in your water and what health issues they can potentially cause:
- Arsenic – Potential effect: Cancer
- Haloacetic acids – Potential effect: Cancer
- Hexavalent Chromium – Potential effect: Cancer
- Nitrate – Potential effect: Cancer
- Total trihalomethanes – Potential effect: Cancer
- Uranium – Potential effect: Cancer
These are six of the 21 contaminants analyzed by the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org).
6 of these contaminants are rated as exceeding EWG Health Guidelines.
See the What Can You Do? section below for all of the contaminants you can filter out and how to do it.
Where does Tucson’s water come from?
Tucson’s water comes from the Arroyo Chico – Santa Cruz River watershed.
The single EPA assessed water source in the Arroyo Chico – Santa Cruz River watershed is in Good condition. This is the Santa Cruz River northwest of the city.
Whether a water source is in Impaired or Good condition refers to the quality of these uses:
- Drinking Water
- Aquatic Life
- Fish and Shellfish Consumption
Learn more from How’s My Waterway
See below for what you can do to improve Tucson’s water.
Conclusion – What Can You Do?
Information about water quality can be surprising.
But there’s no reason to lose hope. There are things you can do in your household as well as things you can do at a community level.
In Your Household:
- Use Berkey filters with activated carbon to filter out 17 of the 21 contaminants in your drinking water.
- Berkey filters can also remove up to 99.99% of Lead in Tucson water.
- Brita can filter 7 contaminants (and Lead depending on the filter).
- Note: We may receive a commission if you decide to purchase filters through links on this page.
- To filter out 18 of the 21 contaminants, consider a Reverse Osmosis water filtration system for your house.
- These are more expensive than pitchers to purchase, but can be more effective.
- They have the benefit of filtering out heavy hitters like:
- 1,4-Dioxane – “Exposure may cause damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys.”
- Arsenic – health effects in water
- Atrazine – herbicide. Potential harm to the developing fetus.
- Barium – In low doses, barium ions act as a muscle stimulant, and higher doses affect the nervous system, causing cardiac irregularities, tremors, weakness, anxiety, shortness of breath, and paralysis.
- Haloacetic acids – chlorination byproduct*
- Hexavalent chromium – health effects
- Selenium – toxicity
- Simazine – herbicide (banned in European Union states)
- Total trihalomethanes – byproduct of chlorination*
*Chlorination is an effective method of disinfecting/treating drinking water. You can then use a water filter to reduce the effects of chlorination byproducts to get the safest, cleanest water possible.
In Your Community:
Contact your local government officials and put pressure on them to invest in cleaner waterways and upgraded city water filtration and treatment.
Go to: https://www.tucsonaz.gov/ to find contact information for your local officials.