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News Releases from Region 09

U.S. EPA Orders Kern County Public Water System to Reduce Arsenic in Drinking Water

Contact Information: 
Nahal Mogharabi (Mogharabi.nahal@epa.gov)

LOS ANGELES - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently settled with Arvin Community Services District (ACSD), located in Arvin, Calif., for arsenic violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act. ACSD has agreed to provide residents with alternative water until they are found to be in compliance and will pay a penalty of $14,750.

In October 2008, EPA issued an order requiring the system to meet the arsenic maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 parts per billion (ppb) no later than December 2010, and was granted an extension to December 31, 2014. However, data from arsenic monitoring taken in 2014 showed that the system remained out of compliance with arsenic concentrations as high as 31 ppb.

ACSD recently installed three drinking water vending machines at its district office, located at 309 Campus Drive that will each provide 650 gallons per day of drinking water to customers. This service is currently available and was funded by the state of California. As part of the order, these vending machines will be available 24/7 at no direct cost to the public and shall be maintained to provide alternative water to ACSD customers until the system has returned to compliance with federal drinking water standards.

In addition, ACSD is required to complete an Arsenic Mitigation Project which includes the drilling and completion of two new groundwater wells. If arsenic should be found above the MCL at the new wells, ACSD will be required to install arsenic treatment that will deliver drinking water to its customers below the arsenic MCL.

ACSD must also provide milestone updates to EPA for the mitigation project, provide EPA with quarterly progress reports and participate in quarterly meetings with EPA and the California State Water Resources Control Board on its progress towards compliance.

Arvin Community Services District serves an average of about 20,000 year-round residents daily through more than 3,700 connections located in the City of Arvin and surrounding Kern County. The system's source of drinking water is groundwater from seven wells that serve single and multiple family residential units, commercial, and industrial customers.

Arsenic is a known human carcinogen and causes several adverse physiological effects.

For more information on the Safe Drinking Water Act, please visit: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/sdwa/index.cfm