Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christine Whitman recently announced a maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 parts per billion (ppb) for arsenic in drinking water. The new standard substantially reduces the acceptable level from the current 50 ppb and will help improve the safety of drinking water.
EPA estimates that the average annual household water bill may increase by $32 per year; however, the cost will be substantially higher for systems treating less than 3,300 people.
EPA plans to provide up to $20 million over the next two years for research and development of more cost-effective technologies to help small systems meet the more protective 10-ppb standard. EPA will also provide technical assistance and training to operators of small systems, which will reduce their compliance costs.
Water systems must meet the new standard by January 2006.