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Tafton Water Case Settled –$200,000 Penalty, Ownership Transfer

Release Date: 11/1/2000
Contact Information: David Sternberg, (215) 814-5548

David Sternberg, 215-814-5548

HAWLEY, Pa. – The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP) have settled a lawsuit over Safe Drinking Water Act violations by the Tafton Water System. The system serves the Wilson Hills development in Hawley, Pa.

Under the terms of the proposed consent decree, the owners and operators of the system must pay a $200,000 penalty. The defendants must also transfer the water system to a qualified owner/operator and reimburse the Wilson Hills homeowners association for $4,418 for system repairs.

“This settlement resolves longstanding drinking water violations by the Tafton Water System and should give families in the Wilson Hills neighborhood new assurances that their tap water is safe,” said EPA Regional Administrator Bradley M. Campbell.

“The public must have confidence that it’s drinking water is clean,” said Lois J. Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the environment at the Justice Department. “This settlement will ensure that we achieve that goal in Wilson Hills.”

The settlement resolves the February 1999 federal lawsuit alleging chronic violations of the federal and state drinking water laws since Tafton acquired the system in 1990. In the suit, the U.S. and PaDEP alleged failure to provide continual disinfection, and failure to employ a certified operator, and monitoring and reporting violations.

Customers were under a boil-water advisory from April 1996 until May 2000. The system serves 150 year-round residents of Wilson Hills, and a substantial number of summer tourists. Richard Freeman, owner of the Tafton Water System, resigned in May 1997, leaving the home owners to run the system and conduct water monitoring with the assistance of PaDEP.

As part of the settlement, the defendants have agreed to transfer the water system to a qualified owner/operator, approved by the U.S., PaDEP, and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. In addition, Mr. Freeman will pay a $1,000 penalty for violating the 1999 consent decree.

The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

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