Arsenic Rule Adds
New Expenses to Already Over-Burdened Water Utilities
Ratepayers worry as Colorado towns prepare to meet new arsenic
By Sylvie Dale
January 7, 2002 About 20 small towns in Colorado are looking at
upgrading their water treatment plants as new, tougher arsenic regulations approach.
Regardless of what is done to bring the arsenic levels down to 10 ppb,
water officials and customers alike fear it could cost a bundle, reported the Rocky
Water officials in Alamosa, Colo., a town located in south central
Colorado, said that it could wind up paying more than $7 million in capital upgrades. The
upgrades could easily double the water rates customers are paying, Rocky Mountain News
The San Luis Valley may be hardest hit by the new standard. In this
region, groundwater in parts of Alamosa and Rio Grande counties contains excessive levels
of the naturally occurring metal. Coincidentally, the areas are among the poorest in the
state, the Rocky Mountain News said.
Colorado's burden is no surprise. The new federal limits on drinking water
recently approved by the Bush administration October 31, 2001 were expected to impact
about 4,000 systems across the nation. With a final compliance deadline of January 2006,
water authorities must scramble to get projects going despite the depressed state of the
EPA is providing up to $20 million for research and development of more
cost-effective technologies to help small systems meet the more protective 10 ppb
The agency also promised technical assistance and training to operators of
small systems, and the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund also is available for
infrastructure improvements. Another program, the Public Water Systems Supervision grants
program, provides funding to small systems for arsenic-related upgrades. Other federal
funds are available through Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block
Grant Program, and the Rural Utilities Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, EPA
For more information on EPA's standard, visit EPA's page on arsenic at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/arsenic.html.
To read the Rocky Mountain News story, visit http://www.rockymountainnews.com.