MTAC Funds Arsenic, Water Quality, and Drought Planning Research, Illinois State Water Survey

Press Release

For Immediate Release April 5, 2005
MTAC Funds Arsenic, Water Quality, and Drought Planning Research
Kent Smothers - (217) 333-9321, Fax: (217) 244-3054
Eva Kingston - (217) 244-7270, Fax: (217) 333-6540,

(Champaign) An issue facing many public groundwater supplies in Illinois and across the nation is protecting the public from high arsenic concentrations in contaminated drinking water when the federal drinking water standard for arsenic drops from 50 micrograms per liter (μg/L) to 10 μg/L in 2006.

Private water supplies are not subject to regulations, but high arsenic concentrations do occur in many private wells. Chronic exposure to high arsenic concentrations can cause cancer and other diseases.

Consequently, the Midwest Technology Assistance Center (MTAC) for Small Public Water Systems has funded four arsenic research projects. The MTAC, housed at the Illinois State Water Survey (, is a joint effort between that agency and the University of Illinois’ Water Resources Center (

“We feel the work we’re funding, especially on arsenic, really is making a difference. Such projects are critical to small systems throughout the Midwest,” says MTAC Managing Director Kent Smothers.

“MTAC, one of nine Centers throughout the United States, receives annual funding from the USEPA and provides grants or direct funding for work by state and university researchers on key areas for small water systems,” says Smothers.

The arsenic projects include optimizing iron addition for arsenic removal at existing facilities, examining conditions that may control arsenic release into groundwater supplies, and tracking arsenic concentration variability in relation to time and pumping procedures. A new technique with greater potential for arsenic removal than existing methods is being examined.

But arsenic isn’t the only focus of MTAC research. “Water quality at surface water intakes is being evaluated with watershed modeling. Comparative performance measures being developed will improve technical, managerial, and financial capacity of small systems. Drought planning for small systems is another important area being assessed,” says Smothers.

More information about MTAC and other Centers is available on the Web ( “The ISWS Public Service Laboratory ( provides analyses of water quality free of charge for owners of domestic wells,” adds Smothers.

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