U.S. EPA Orders Water Utility in Kern County to Reduce Arsenic in Drinking Water
NORTH EDWARDS, Calif. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently ordered North Edwards Water District to address ongoing arsenic violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act. The California’s State Water Resources Control Board – Division of Drinking Water (DDW) referred the system to EPA for enforcement.
"A number of smaller drinking water systems in the Central Valley struggle to provide consistently safe drinking water,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “EPA will work closely with this Kern County system to ensure its 600 customers have the benefit of alternative drinking water until the North Edwards Water District can supply water safe to drink."
The North Edwards Water District system serves approximately 600 residents through more than 200 connections. The system's current source of drinking water is groundwater from two wells.
Arsenic, a naturally occurring mineral found throughout the United States, can be found in groundwater. Drinking high levels of arsenic over many years can increase the risk of lung, bladder, and skin cancers, as well as heart disease, diabetes, and neurological damage. Arsenic also inhibits the body’s ability to fight off cancer and other diseases.
As part of EPA’s order, North Edwards Water District must comply with the arsenic maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 micrograms per liter no later than April 30, 2023. The system has been serving water with arsenic levels above the MCL since at least 2013.
The District must provide a compliance plan by the end of October 2020 outlining how it will comply with the arsenic MCL standard. North Edwards Water District is also required to provide EPA with quarterly progress reports and participate in quarterly meetings with EPA and California DDW on its progress towards compliance. The District has applied for funding from the California State Water Resources Control Board – Division of Financial Assistance to provide residents with alternative water until the system complies with federal and state drinking water requirements.
EPA will continue to monitor North Edwards Water District’s efforts to provide safe drinking water and may levy penalties if the utility fails to meet the compliance provisions in the order.
For more information on EPA's drinking water program, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/sdwa