Kern County Water Suppliers Raise Costs Concerns with New Arsenic Level Standards
Water providers in Kern County are concerned about the costs of lowering the federal standards for the amount of arsenic allowed in drinking water, the Bakersfield Californian reports. The concerns were prompted by a National Academy of Sciences report released last week that stated that the cancer risk caused by 10 parts arsenic per billion in drinking water is high, which could mean that arsenic standards might be set at even lower levels. Earlier this year, EPA Administrator Christine Whitman rescinded a 10-parts-per-billion standard that the Clinton administration enacted and called for the EPA to review the cost and health effects of standards between three parts per billion and 20 parts per billion. The current standard is 50 parts per billion. Bill Wulff, a Kern County Water Agency manager, said, "The standard is going to be set at 10 (ppb) or less. I wouldn't be surprised if the standard doesn't go to five (ppb)." Another Kern County Water Agency official estimated in August that drinking water costs could increase by 20% to 30% if a 10-parts-per-billion standard was implemented. Kern County water providers have said that the cost of treating arsenic in drinking water to meet the stricter standard might outweigh the resulting health benefits. In Kern County, four water providers have average arsenic levels above 10 parts per billion (Cavanaugh, Bakersfield Californian, 9/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.