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VI Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation Agrees to Pay $5,000 for Drinking Water Violations; EPA Levies First Fine for Failure to Complete Consumer Confidence Reports; Warns that Others Face Fines

Release Date: 01/18/2001
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(#01009) St. Thomas, V.I. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has settled its first case against the owner of a public water supply for failing to provide annual Consumer Confidence Reports to its customers. Under the settlement, the Virgin Islands Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation has agreed to pay a $5,000 penalty and has distributed all of its required drinking water reports. In addition, EPA issued complaints against 10 other entities, including the Virgin Islands government and condominium and apartment owners, for failing to complete Consumer Confidence Reports for their drinking water systems.

"These reports are very important because they give water consumers basic, easy to understand information about the quality of the water that they drink," said Jeanne M. Fox, EPA Regional Administrator. EPA is serious about ensuring that all systems complete the reports. "I would encourage the other systems that receive EPA complaints to do their reports quickly and to settle with us. If they do their reports and settle quickly, we will reduce the fines. If they do not cooperate, they will face considerably stiffer fines."

In addition to the complaint settled with the Department of Housing, Parks and Recreation, EPA recently issued similar complaints to the Virgin Islands Bureau of Corrections, Department of Human Services and Department of Health as well as Long Reef, Little Reef and Pelican Cove Condominiums, Questa Verde Townhouses and Cruz Bay Apartments in St. Croix. In addition, complaints were issued to the Fairway Village in St. Thomas Sunrise Cove Condominiums in St. Thomas. Despite continued warnings by EPA, these systems have still not completed their Consumer Confidence Reports. Unless they do the reports quickly and settle with EPA, these government agencies, apartment complexes and condominium associations could face up to $5000 penalties per report due. In some cases, several reports were required because several buildings or separate systems were involved. EPA and the Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources (VIDPNR) will continue to work with systems in the Virgin Islands to help them complete the annual reports, which are again due on July 1, 2001. EPA is enforcing these requirements until the VIDPNR receives authority to enforce the federal rules.

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, annual reports must be completed for all public drinking water supplies. The reports must, among other things, identify the source of the drinking water, summarize the system’s susceptibility to contamination, show the level of any contaminant found in local drinking water and give the federal standard for it, identify its likely source and potential health effects and describe how the contaminant was reduced back to safe levels. Systems serving more than 10,000 people must mail their reports directly to consumers and must make the reports available through the Internet. Systems serving between 500 and 10,000 people must make the reports available on request and must publish the report in the local newspaper, while smaller systems serving fewer than 500 people must inform consumers about the report and make it available upon request. The first report was due October 1999 and all subsequent reports are due by July 1 of each year. For more information, go to EPA's Consumer Confidence Reports Web site.