Two new studies predict the costs to remove methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) contamination from public drinking water systems across the United States. Costs are likely to be in the range of $25 billion to $33.2 billion and could be as high as $85 billion. The studies are commissioned by the American Water Works Association and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies.

MTBE is a serious problem and the cost of removing this contaminant from drinking water is substantial. In 2001, the cleanup costs were estimated to be $29 billion. The studies acknowledge thousands of water systems already are contaminated by MTBE. The chemical, added to gasoline as an octane enhancer and to help protect air quality, has a strong odor and is listed by the EPA as a possible carcinogen.

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