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

Release Date: 11/22/2010
Contact Information: Lisa Kahn, 303-312-6896, kahn.lisa@epa.gov

(Denver, Colo. – November 22, 2010) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 8 issued 10 administrative orders and settled 3 penalty actions under the Safe Drinking Water Act against public drinking water systems in Montana from April 1 through September 30, 2010. EPA also issued two emergency administrative orders under the Act in Indian country in Montana.

Although the State of Montana is authorized to implement the drinking water program under the Safe Drinking Water Act, except in Indian country areas, EPA retains authority to take federal action against public water systems in the state that violate the Act 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.

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

EPA issued administrative orders to the following Montana public water systems:

Armstead Campground, Dillon
CLA Enterprises LLC, Gallatin Gateway
Cheffy’s, Whitefish
Fazooli’s, Somers
H Bar J Saloon, Wise River
Lambert County Sewer and Water District, Sidney
Malmstrom AFB, Great Falls
Snow Slip Inn, Essex
Sphinx Mountain Mobile Home Park, Corwin Springs
Town of Fairview, Fairview

EPA issues a penalty action when a public water system violates an administrative order. The penalty amount is based on a combination of the seriousness of the violations and the size of the population at risk, among other factors.

EPA settled penalty actions for the following public water systems, with the penalty amount noted:

Oasis Bar, Wolf Creek
Penalty Amount: $100

Ranch House of Dupuyer, Dupuyer
Penalty Amount: $1,000

Winston Bar, Winston
Penalty Amount: $100

EPA has direct authority to implement the Safe Drinking Water Act in Indian country. EPA issued two emergency administrative orders under the Act in Indian country in Montana during the period from April 1 to September 30, 2010. EPA issues an emergency order when there is a potential for imminent and substantial endangerment to public health, such as when contaminants have been identified in a public water system or when the public water system has experienced a disruption in the system that may endanger public health.

On June 22, 2010, EPA issued an emergency order to the Rocky Boy’s Water Resources Department (Newtown water system) on the Rocky Boy’s Reservation when water lines broke as a result of flooding and the distribution system lost pressure. In such situations, potentially harmful contaminants can enter the distribution system through cracks and leaks in the pipes. The Rocky Boy’s Water Resources Department took necessary precautions to protect the residents during the pressure loss, and multiple tests conducted after service was restored proved the water to be safe for normal use.

On June 23, 2010, EPA issued an emergency order to the Blackfeet Utilities Commission (Bedrock water system) on the Blackfeet Reservation when the pump house was damaged, the well was taken out of service, and the distribution system lost pressure. In such situations, potentially harmful contaminants can enter the distribution system through cracks and leaks in the pipes. The Blackfeet Utilities Commission took necessary precautions to protect the residents during the pressure loss, and multiple tests conducted after service was restored proved the water to be safe for normal use.

The Safe Drinking Water Act establishes specific regulations to assure the safety of public drinking water. EPA Region 8 directly implements the drinking water program throughout Indian country in the Region and in Wyoming and also oversees implementation of the Act in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah.