After the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finally announced the new maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 parts per billion (ppb) for arsenic, an estimated 4,000 community water systems are now left to take measures to lower their arsenic levels, which were previously at 50 ppb.
The new standard raises concerns including costs, which will
pay off for the POU/POE industry. The National Resources Defense Council
estimated that 56 million Americans drink water with unsafe levels of arsenic.
The EPA estimates that compliance to the new standard will cost $200
million. Some small communities
serving fewer than 500 people (65 percent) are facing a tripling of water rates
that will be passed to the consumer. The EPA plans on providing $20 million over
the next two years for the research and development of more economical technology
Here is where the POU industry finds its place with the new
standard. POU is being recognized as acceptable treatment for arsenic removal.
According to the Water Quality Association’s (WQA) WQA News,2 the EPA
listed POU activated alumina and reverse osmosis technologies as acceptable
treatment for use in small systems. The article also stated that the EPA
“used POU in its cost calculations in a limited manner, estimating POU
applications in approximately 4 to 7 percent of communities with fewer than 500
people. While this is a small use factor, this is the first time the POU option
has been identified by the EPA as a viable option for compliance purposes.”
Educating the nation’s government as well as consumers
about the POU industry has been a top priority. A meeting last summer with members of the industry including
WQA representatives and senators served as a breakthrough forum among the
various organizations to share technologies and their capabilities.
This is a great start for our industry that has gone
unrecognized by officials until now. As the arsenic compliance date (2006)
grows nearer and stricter standards are passed for other contaminants, the POU industry is going to see growth, and the demand for innovation will become great.
This issue of WQP discusses many of these topics including
how to position your POE products with the new arsenic standard on page 8, POU
market trends on page 18, innovations in activated carbon on page 16 and a WQA
Preshow Guide on page 22 that serves as a first look and planning guide for the
WQA’s must-attend show. Don’t miss the arsenic educational sessions
throughout the conference. In addition, visit WaterInfoCenter.com for
additional and up-to-date arsenic information.