Region 8 Summarizes Drinking Water Actions

From April 1 through Sept. 30, 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initiated a number of drinking water enforcement actions in Montana Tribal Lands, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming, according to a Dec. 18 press release.

The agency issues an administrative order when a public water system violates the Safe Drinking Water Act and its regulations. The agency oversees the protection of public health and the environment in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. EPA directly implements most provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act on Tribal lands.

The agency issued an emergency administrative order on May 28 to Rocky Boys Utilities for the Rocky Boy’s Rural Water System (Newtown), Rocky Boy’s Reservation when the distribution system lost pressure. In such situations, potentially harmful contaminants can enter the distribution system through cracks and leaks in the pipes.  Also receiving administrative orders for lost pressure were the Fort Belknap Agency Water System on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, and Agnes Leggins and Lodge Pole Housing Water Systems on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation.

Although the state of Montana is authorized to implement the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA can take federal action against public water systems in the state that violate the SDWA and its regulations. EPA and Montana have a joint arrangement whereby EPA provides assistance with selected enforcement cases and works with the state to identify the public water systems against which EPA will take federal action.

EPA issued administrative orders to 18 public water systems in Montana, including restaurants, retail stores, a water user association and a water district, cities, and a school.

In Utah, EPA and the state work together to identify public water systems against which EPA will take federal enforcement action. Utah also has authority to issue enforcement actions against water systems in the state. EPA is first required to issue a notice of violation to the state before EPA takes a federal action against a public water system that violates the SDWA.

EPA issued an administrative order to Boulder King Ranch, Boulder, due to its failure to monitor for total coliform bacteria and nitrate. The system is currently complying with monitoring requirements.

EPA also issued notices of violation to the state for:

  • the Indian Ridge Water District, Fairview, due to failure to monitor for total coliform bacteria and nitrate, and exceedance of the maximum contaminant level for total coliform bacteria. The system is under new management and is progressing toward returning to compliance.

  • Offshore Marina, Lake Powell, due to failure to monitor for total coliform bacteria and failure to monitor for nitrate. The system is currently complying with monitoring requirements.

  • Town of Plymouth, due to failure to monitor for disinfection byproducts, chlorine residual, inorganic contaminants, radium 228 and nitrate. The system is currently complying with monitoring requirements.

In the state of Wyoming, EPA directly implements the Safe Drinkling Water Act and issues enforcement actions to public water systems that fail to comply with its regulations. EPA issued administrative orders to developments, schools, resorts, mobile home parks, a water and sewer authority, and several towns.

On May 21, EPA Region 8 issued an emergency administrative order to the following four Wyoming water systems whose shared water source experienced high turbidity levels: Bridger Valley Joint Powers Board, Mountain View; Lower Bench Water and Sewer District, Lyman; the Town of Lyman; and the Town of Mountain View. Turbidity indicates the presence of particles in the water that can interfere with treatment processes and enhance the growth of disease causing organisms in the water.

Another emergency order was issued to the Town of Dixon on May 22 for a separate high turbidity event. An additional emergency administrative order was issued on July 18 against Flying X Ranch Mobile Home Park in Wheatland for the presence of E. coli bacteria. EPA also issued an emergency order to Ridgeway Community Well in Gillette on April 27, 2008, when the water system experienced a loss of pressure.

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