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Latest summary of EPA actions to ensure safe drinking water in Montana

Release Date: 06/07/2010
Contact Information: Lisa Kahn, 303-312-6896, kahn.lisa@epa.gov

(Denver, Colo. – June 7, 2010) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 8 issued 3 administrative orders in Montana from October 1, 2009 through March 31, 2010, against public drinking water systems under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). EPA also issued 2 administrative orders and 2 emergency administrative orders in Indian country in Montana.

Although the State of Montana is authorized to implement the drinking water program under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA retains authority to take federal action against public water systems in the state that violate the SDWA and its regulations. EPA and Montana have developed a joint work-share arrangement whereby EPA provides federal assistance with selected enforcement cases. EPA and Montana work together to identify the public water systems against which EPA will take federal action.

EPA issued administrative orders to the following Montana public water systems between October 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010.

Fazooli’s Family Italian, Somers
Beaverhead Jackson Water and Sewer District, Jackson
Bitterroot Gateway Mobile Home and RV Park, Lolo

EPA has direct implementation authority for Indian country areas. EPA issued administrative orders to the following water systems in Indian country in Montana between October 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010:

Horseshoe Bar, Frazer
Lame Deer High School, Lame Deer

An administrative order requires the public water system to comply with the drinking water regulations and includes action items for returning to compliance.

EPA also issued two emergency orders in Indian country between October 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010.

On October 6, 2009, EPA issued an emergency order to the Hays/White Cow water system on the Fort Belknap Reservation. The emergency order was issued following positive fecal coliform samples collected on October 2, 2009, constituting an acute violation of the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for bacteria. The Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes took the necessary precautions to protect residents during the fecal coliform event and subsequent tests proved the water to be safe for normal use.

On January 14, 2010, EPA issued an emergency order to the Birney and Muddy Cluster water systems on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation when the distribution systems both lost pressure. In such situations, potentially harmful contaminants can enter the distribution system through cracks and leaks in the pipes. The Northern Cheyenne Tribe took necessary precautions to protect residents during the pressure loss, and multiple tests conducted after service was restored proved the water to be safe for normal use.

An emergency order requires the public water system to take immediate steps to ensure that unsafe water is not provided to the public, and to address the cause of the emergency situation so that it does not recur.

EPA Region 8 directly implements the drinking water program throughout Indian country in the Region and in Wyoming.

EPA Region 8 oversees the protection of public health and the environment under the Safe Drinking Water Act in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah.