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 Basic Information

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In 2001, EPA announced that the final standard for arsenic in drinking water of 10 micrograms per liter (µg/L) would replace the old limit of 50 µg/L. The new rule became effective in February 2002. EPA has provided $23 million for the research and development of more cost-effective technologies, as well as training and technical assistance to operators of small systems to reduce their compliance costs.

As part of this effort, EPA’s Arsenic Research Program fills in research gaps for a number of technologies and compliance approaches, and provides information to utilities, engineering firms, regulatory officials, and others. In addition to developing training materials, software, and design manuals, EPA conducts:

  • Treatment technology demonstrations
  • Short-term performance verification studies of commercially ready arsenic treatment technologies
  • Research that emphasizes:
      - Management of residuals from arsenic treatment
      - Improved analytical methods
      - Treatment process optimization
      - Distribution system studies

In-house research consists of a variety of activities, including studies on adsorptive media coagulation, filtration, iron removal, and other processes, using bench-scale and pilot-scale methodology. These studies have resulted in a number of technical reports on:

  • Methods to preserve water samples for arsenic (III) and arsenic (V) speciation tests
  • Oxidation methods for converting arsenic (III) to arsenic (V)
  • Methods for the treatment of residuals from arsenic removal processes
  • Design manuals for adsorptive media, ion exchange, and iron removal processes
  • Cost programs for estimating adsorption media, ion exchange, and iron removal processes

To assist states and water utility operators in meeting the new arsenic standard of 10 µg/L, EPA provides training and technical assistance materials such as software, design manuals, and Web casts. These items provide practical information for states and operators as they move into compliance with the new Arsenic Rule.

Small-system operators face many challenges, including determining the best low-cost technology for a system and finding money to fund the technology. In response to these challenges, EPA initiated the Arsenic Removal Technology Demonstration Program in 2002 to evaluate performance, reliability, and cost of arsenic removal technologies and their effect on distribution systems.

The goals of the Arsenic Removal Technology Demonstration Program are to:

  • Determine capital, operational, and maintenance costs
  • Evaluate the performance of the process
  • Characterize the residuals
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of residuals disposal processes and the effect of residuals on the existing disposal process
  • Determine the effect of arsenic treatment on distribution systems

Under the program, two rounds of full-scale demonstrations of commercially ready treatment technologies were conducted at selected public water facilities across the United States. Round 2a is now under way.


Tom Sorg

See Also

Environmental Technology Verification (ETV)

In-House and Field Research

Training and Technical Assistance

Chemical References – Arsenic, Inorganic

Arsenic in Drinking Water

Rule-Making History

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