EPA Orders Arizona Drinking Water System to Reduce Arsenic

Arsenic is a known carcinogen

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered the Monte Vista Water Co. in Douglas, Ariz., to reduce arsenic levels in their drinking water system or face penalties of up to $37,500 per day for each violation.

The EPA’s order requires the system, serving more than 150 residents northwest of downtown, to develop and meet a schedule to comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act’s arsenic standard of 10 ppb. Arsenic is a naturally occurring mineral found primarily in groundwater.

“Clean, safe drinking water is a basic need for every Arizonan,” EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest Jared Blumenfeld said. “We’ll continue to take action against public drinking water systems to ensure they all comply with all Act standards.”

In January 2001, the federal government lowered the arsenic standard in drinking water from 50 to 10 ppb and gave systems 5 years to come into compliance with the new standard. The company failed to meet the deadline and is out of compliance. The order requires the company to submit a plan in November and comply with the arsenic standard by 2013.

The EPA does not anticipate collecting penalties if the company complies with the order. Statewide, approximately 80 small water purveyors are currently out of compliance with a variety of federal drinking water standards from monitoring and reporting requirements to exceedances of contaminant limits. Small systems often struggle to keep current with ongoing monitoring and reporting requirements.

Arsenic is a known carcinogen. Drinking high levels of arsenic over many years can increase the chance of lung, bladder, liver and skin cancers, as well as heart disease, diabetes and neurological damage. Arsenic inhibits the body’s ability to fight off cancer and other diseases.


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