East Shoshone County to Install Filtration, Clean Mine Adit

The East Shoshone County Water District (Idaho) will complete a water filtration plant and distribution rehabilitation project and perform a $20,000 mine adit cleanup project to address a complaint issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in March, 2000.

“For years, district customers in Burke Canyon have been receiving water that did not meet Safe Drinking Water Act standards," said Ed Kowalski, director of EPA's Enforcement Office in Seattle, Wash. "Thanks to the district’s investment in new filtration equipment and rehabilitating their distribution system, we expect this community will now enjoy a safer, healthier future.”

The district operates three separate water systems that serve about 3,200 customers in the communities of Wallace, Mullan, and Burke, in Idaho’s Panhandle. The Burke system, located near the city of Wallace, has about 21 service connections that regularly serve approximately 45 people.

The settlement requires the district to:

  • construct and operate a filtration system for water customers in Burke Canyon at an estimated cost of $600,000;
  • rehabilitate the existing distribution system;
  • comply with maximum contaminant levels, monitoring, reporting and public notice requirements for coliform bacteria; and
  • spend approximately $20,000 to modify the discharge from the nearby abandoned mine adit.

It also agreed to pay a $5,000 cash penalty.

The Burke system draws its raw water from Sawmill Gulch Creek. Water from creeks, streams, rivers and lakes may be contaminated by cryptosporidium or giardia. While the district currently chlorinates the water prior to providing it to customers, chlorine treatment alone is insufficient to eliminate the threat from these disease-causing organisms.

In addition, the proposed adit project would reduce or eliminate turbidity contributed by an abandoned mine adit upstream of Burke water system’s raw drinking water intake. By lowering the turbidity levels of the raw water, the proposed adit project is expected to increase the filtration and disinfection capabilities of the Burke water treatment system.

The filtration and rehabilitation project is being funded with about $340,000 from a $2 million EPA grant, along with approximately $270,000 in district matching funds.

The Consent Decree has been filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho and is subject to public comment before being entered by the court. The Department of Justice will receive comments relating to this decree for 30 days from Oct. 19, 2009. Comments should be addressed to the Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division, and either emailed to pubcomment-ees.enrd@usdoj.gov or mailed to P.O. Box 7611, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC 20044–7611 and should refer to United States v. East Shoshone County Water District, Civil Action No. 09–00499–EJL, DOJ Ref. 90–5–1–1–08453.

During the public comment period, the consent decree may be examined at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

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