Dec 20, 2011

U.S. EPA Orders Douglas, Ariz., Drinking Water System to Reduce Arsenic Levels

Monte Vista Water Co. ordered to reduce arsenic levels or face penalties

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

EPA’s order requires the system, serving more than 150 residents northwest of downtown Douglas, 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,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “We’ll continue to take action against public drinking water systems to ensure they all comply with all Safe Drinking Water Act standards.”

In January 2001, the federal government lowered the arsenic standard in drinking water from 50 ppb to 10 ppb and gave systems five years to come into compliance with the new standard. EPA says the Monte Vista Water Co. failed to meet the deadline and is out of compliance. The order requires Monte Vista Water Co. to submit a plan in November 2012 and comply with the arsenic standard by 2013.

EPA said it does not anticipate collecting penalties if the Monte Vista Water Co. 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.