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EPA: Douglas water co. must reduce arsenic

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EPA: Douglas water co. must reduce arsenic

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered a small Douglas water company to reduce arsenic levels or face steep fines.

The Monte Vista Water Company, which serves about 150 residents north of downtown Douglas, must reduce arsenic levels by 2013 or face penalties of up to $37,500 per day for each violation, said an agency spokeswoman.

"In January 2001, the federal government lowered the arsenic standard in drinking water from 50 ppb to 10 ppb and gave systems 5 years to come into compliance with the new standard. The Monte Vista Water Company failed to meet the deadline and is out of compliance. The order requires Monte Vista Water Company to submit a plan in November and comply with the arsenic standard by 2013," said the EPA's Margo Perez-Sullivan in a press release.

More from the release:

The EPA does not anticipate collecting penalties if Monte Vista Water Company complies with the order.  Statewide approximately 80 small water purveyors are currently out of compliance with a variety of federal drinking water standards from monitoring and reporting requirements to exceedances of contaminant limits.  Small systems often struggle to keep current with ongoing monitoring and reporting requirements.

Arsenic is a known carcinogen. Drinking high levels of arsenic over many years can increase the chance of lung, bladder, liver and skin cancers, as well as heart disease, diabetes and neurological damage. Arsenic inhibits the body’s ability to fight off cancer and other diseases.

"Clean, safe drinking water is a basic need for every Arizonan," Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, said in the release.

"We’ll continue to take action against public drinking water systems to ensure they all comply with all Safe Drinking Water Act standards," he said.

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