Kern County water system penalized for arsenic in drinking water

Oct. 9, 2015

Samples taken last year showed that the system had arsenic concentrations as high as 31 ppb.

A water company in California has agreed to provide residents with alternative drinking water until its public water system meets federal limits on arsenic levels, according to a press release.

Arvin Community Services District (ACSD) recently installed three drinking water vending machines at its district office, each of which will provide 650 gallons per day of drinking water to customers.

Under the settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the company will also pay a penalty of $14,750.

The problem dates back at least seven years. The EPA issued an order in October 2008, requiring the system to meet the arsenic maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 parts per billion (ppb) no later than December 2010. An extension was later granted to December 31, 2014. However, data from samples taken last year showed that the system was still not in compliance, with arsenic concentrations as high as 31 ppb.

As part of the EPA settlement announced this week, ACSD will complete an Arsenic Mitigation Project which includes the drilling and completion of two new groundwater wells.

If arsenic levels at the new wells are above the MCL, the water company will be required to install arsenic treatment.

ACSD provides drinking water to around 20,000 residents in the City of Arvin and surrounding Kern County. Its drinking water comes from seven wells that serve domestic, commercial and industrial customers.

According to the EPA, some people who drink water containing arsenic in excess of the MCL over many years could experience skin damage or problems with their circulatory system, and may have an increased risk of getting cancer.

You can find the entire release here.