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Administrative Action Directs Public Water System in Macy, Neb., to Issue Boil Order for Drinking Water

Release Date: 01/07/2009
Contact Information: Chris Whitley, 913-551-7394, whitley.christopher@epa.gov



Environmental News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Kansas City, Kan., Jan. 7, 2009) - EPA Region 7 has issued an emergency administrative notice to the Omaha Macy Public Water System, located on the Omaha Tribe Reservation in Thurston County, Neb., directing the water system to issue an order advising its customers to boil their water until further notice.

The EPA's action has been communicated to the Tribal Chairman and Tribal Environmental Director and the operator of the Omaha Macy Public Water System. As of this morning, the Tribe had not officially issued any boil order for its customers.

The Omaha Macy Public Water System cannot supply drinkable water due to a structural failure in its system that resulted in a significant drop in water pressure. Because low pressure conditions carry the potential for fecal contamination or other disease-causing organisms to enter water lines, EPA believes that a boil order should be in place. As soon as sufficient water sampling data would indicate the public's health is protected, such a boil order could be lifted.

Persons who are subject to boil orders should boil all water for one to three minutes before consuming it. Failure to do so could pose serious health risks, especially for very old and very young persons, or persons of any age with weakened immune systems.

EPA Region 7 Administrator John Askew said, "Constant vigilance to protect public health and ensure safe drinking water is essential. EPA appreciates the cooperation of the Omaha Tribe, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Indian Health Services, and local officials to restore normal service and safe drinking water as quickly as possible."

The Tribe is working with EPA and other federal and state entities to get the public water system repaired and back online.

EPA issues this type of administrative action when there is imminent and substantial endangerment to public health under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and its regulations. The SDWA, signed into law Dec. 16, 1974, and strengthened by amendments in 1986 and 1996, protects human health by regulating the nation's public drinking water supply. The responsibility for ensuring safe drinking water is shared by EPA, states, tribes, water systems, and the public.