Seven Washington State Water Systems Ordered To Send Annual Water Quality Reports To Their Customers

EPA announced on March 13 it has ordered seven Washington water systems to send their customers annual reports describing the quality of their water in 2004, as required by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), or pay fines as high as $32,500 per day.

According to EPA officials, the following water systems failed to prepare, distribute and certify 2004 Consumer Confidence Reports (CCR), even after repeated attempts by state and federal officials to get them to comply:

  • Anderson Creek Water Association, serving approximately 50 customers in Bellingham.
  • Bill Point Water System, serving 203 in Bainbridge.
  • Country Meadows Water System, serving 90 in Poulsbo.
  • Mount Forest Water System, serving 50 in Lake Stevens.
  • Olympic Circle Water System, serving 55 in Silverdale.
  • Shattuck 1 Water System, serving 91 in Olympia.
  • Victor Water Association, serving 43 in Bellingham.

"We're concerned about these violations because consumers have a right to know what is in their drinking water," said Marie Jennings, manager of the Drinking Water Program for EPA's Region 10, which includes Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Idaho. "Drinking water system owners are required to communicate how their system is operating. The reports provide valuable information to customers that allow them to make informed choices about their health and raise awareness of where their drinking water comes from." A CCR also must describe any violations of the SDWA that occurred during the year, and any steps the drinking water system is taking to address the violations.

As of July 1, 2005, 54 of Washington's 2,200 eligible drinking water systems had failed to mail 2004 CCRs to their customers.

Since that date, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) and EPA has worked informally with the systems to encourage them to comply with the CCR requirement. DOH sent a written notice to each system, as did EPA. EPA also called each system to encourage compliance. Most of the systems have been responsive to these efforts and mailed out their CCRs, but these remaining seven systems have not.

Violation of any terms of the EPA orders may result in an administrative civil penalty of up to $27,500, or a civil judicial penalty of not more than $32,500 per day of violation. The systems can avoid these penalties by preparing, distributing and certifying their 2004 CCR within 30 days after they receive the orders.

Additional information on CCRs can be found at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/ccr/index.html.

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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