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Several area water agencies expect a multimillion-dollar hit if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency whacks the amount of arsenic allowed in drinking water by 90 percent.
Suppliers in Sacramento and Yolo counties that use groundwater are particularly vulnerable.
The EPA, which plans to revise the current standard in January, Wants to lower the maximum amount of arsenic in drinking water from 50 to 5 parts per billion.
The EPA decided to act following a March 1999 report from the National Academy of Sciences that said long-term exposure to low concentrations of arsenic can cause skin, bladder, lung and prostate cancer; cardiovascular disease; diabetes and anemia.
Adapting the new limit would cost California water purveyors $1.8 billion in capital costs and $240 million more each year after that, estimates the Association of California Water Agencies. It counts more than 435 public water agencies among its members.
Costs in affected districts would be passed on to ratepayers, in amounts estimated from $28 to $85 …