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EPA Warns the Public Served by Public Water System in Macy, Neb., to Boil the Water

Release Date: 01/24/2011
Contact Information: Kris Lancaster, (913) 551-7557, lancaster.kris@epa.gov


Environmental News


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(Kansas City, Kan., Jan. 24, 2011) - EPA Region 7 is advising customers of the Omaha Tribe’s Macy, Neb., Water System to boil water provided by the tribally-owned and operated water utility. This notice is being issued concurrently with the Omaha Tribe to assure the public is fully informed. As soon as sufficient water sampling data indicates the public’s health is protected, the boil order could be lifted.

EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks said, “Protecting our nation’s drinking water is a top priority for EPA. EPA is working with 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.”

For several months, the Omaha Tribe’s Macy, Neb., public water system has experienced multiple and widespread losses of pressure in the distribution system caused by line breaks and intermittent operation of the water system. When this occurs, there is a potential for fecal contamination or other disease-causing organisms to enter the distribution system.

In addition, the water utility did not collect water samples in December 2010 to test for contamination. All public water systems are required to sample and test water regularly for the presence of fecal coliform or E. coli. Without prompt and regular testing, the safety of the water cannot be determined.

Until further notice, all water dispensed by the Omaha Tribe’s Macy, Neb., public water system used for drinking, brushing teeth, cooking, making ice, washing dishes, or otherwise used for human consumption should be boiled. The water should be boiled for one to three minutes. Boiling kills any bacteria or organism which may have entered the water.

EPA believes that the water boiling practice should continue until sufficient water sampling data indicate the public's health is protected and communicated by EPA and the Omaha Macy Water System. 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.

The responsibility for ensuring safe drinking water is shared by EPA, states, tribes, water systems, and the public. The tribe is working with EPA and other federal and state entities to get the public water system repaired.

People can contact the Omaha Tribal offices at (402) 837-5391 to obtain information about access to alternate sources of water during the intermittent water services.

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