Safe Drinking Water Challenges

In 2005, 95% of the population served by public water systems in the Pacific
Southwest received drinking water that met all federal drinking water standards.
Small water systems will be increasingly challenged by new federal drinking water
rules designed to reduce people’s exposure to disease-causing pathogens and
disinfection byproducts. The new rules require additional treatment and controls
such as filtration, disinfection and source protection to reduce exposure to
waterborne pathogens while minimizing the risks from disinfection byproducts.

Clean Tap Water

In addition, EPA’s new standard of 10 parts per billion (ppb) of arsenic in drinking
water took effect on January 23, 2006, affecting nearly 20% of the water systems
in Arizona, California and Nevada, many of them small systems serving less than
500 persons. Many of these small systems, which pump ground water from wells,
may need to install treatment technology for the first time and must find ways to
pay for the treatment. Water system operators will need to be trained. Customer
rate increases may result from these additional investments.

EPA is providing training for state, tribal, and water utility workers, and will
collaborate with states and tribes on compliance assistance and enforcement.
In 2006, EPA’s Pacific Southwest Regional Office will make available to states
$110 million to provide as loans to help water systems make capital improvements
to meet the new standards. EPA will also work with states, tribes, and water
districts to identify alternative funding mechanisms, including other federal and
state programs.

Published in US Environmental Protection Agency