Major changes are ahead for a small Sutter County water utility and its arsenic-tainted water, due to pressure from the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The roughly 350 customers of Sutter County Waterworks District, primarily serving the community of Robbins, will continue receiving free bottled drinking water as part of the deal, according to Amy Miller, Director of Enforcement and compliance for EPA Region 9.
The District, which supplies groundwater to customers has agreed to dig a new well and construct a new treatment facility for its drinking water.
“Under this agreement, if they do not comply with the terms of the agreement, we will seek penalties.” Miller said.
Arsenic is linked to cancer, circulatory problems and skin damage.
Miller said water delivered to homes by the district contained arsenic at an average concentration of 14 to 15 parts per billion. The federal limit for drinking water is ten parts per billion. The district fell out of compliance several years ago after federal officials sharply cut the allowable limit from 50 parts per billion.
It’s not the first time there has been an issue with the district. It received nearly half a million dollars in voter approved state bond funds between 2013 and 2015 to reduce concentrations of arsenic in its drinking water.
Miller said under the agreed upon timeline, the district will provide water meeting the standard by January of 2023.