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East Shoshone County Water District agrees to install filtration system, clean up mine adit and pay penalty to settle EPA Complaint

Release Date: 10/21/2009
Contact Information: Rick Green, EPA/Seattle 206-553-8504, green.richard@epa.gov - Mark MacIntyre EPA/Seattle, 206-553-7302, macintyre.mark@epa.gov

(Seattle, WA – October 21, 2009) The East Shoshone County Water District (District) will complete a water filtration plant and distribution rehabilitation project, perform a $20,000 mine adit cleanup project and pay a $5,000 penalty to settle an EPA complaint about their failure to comply with a Safe Drinking Water Act Compliance Order issued in March of 2000.

According to Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA’s Enforcement Office in Seattle, this is a major step forward toward providing safe water for Burke Canyon residents, who comprise a portion of the District’s service area.

“Today’s settlement is great news for the families living in Burke Canyon that are served by the East Shoshone County Water District,” said EPA’s Kowalski. “For years, District customers in Burke Canyon have been receiving water that did not meet Safe Drinking Water Act standards. Thanks to the District’s investment in new filtration equipment and rehabilitating their distribution system, we expect this community will now enjoy a safer, healthier future.”

The District operates three separate water systems that serve about 3,200 customers in the communities of Wallace, Mullan, and Burke, in Idaho’s Panhandle. The Burke system, located near the city of Wallace, has about 21 service connections that regularly serve approximately 45 people.

The announced settlement, under an EPA Consent Decree, requires the District construct and operate a filtration system for water customers in Burke Canyon at an estimated cost of $600,000; rehabilitate the existing distribution system; comply with maximum contaminant levels, monitoring, reporting and public notice requirements for coliform bacteria; and spend approximately $20,000 to modify the discharge from the nearby abandoned mine adit. They have also agreed to pay a $5,000 cash penalty.

The filtration project is required for the Burke system because it draws its raw water from Sawmill Gulch Creek. Water from creeks, streams, rivers and lakes may be contaminated by cryptosporidium or giardia. While the District currently chlorinates the water prior to providing it to customers, chlorine treatment alone is insufficient to eliminate the threat from these disease-causing organisms.

In addition, the proposed adit project would reduce or eliminate turbidity contributed by an abandoned mine adit upstream of Burke water system’s raw drinking water intake. By lowering the turbidity levels of the raw water, the proposed adit project is expected to increase the filtration and disinfection capabilities of the Burke water treatment system.

The filtration and rehabilitation project is being funded with about $340,000 from a $2 million EPA grant, along with approximately $270,000 in District matching funds.

The Consent Decree has been filed with the United States District Court for the District of Idaho and is subject to public comment before being entered by the court. The Department of Justice will receive comments relating to this decree for thirty (30) days from October 19, 2009. Comments should be addressed to the Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division, and either emailed to:
pubcomment-ees.enrd@usdoj.gov

or mailed to:
P.O. Box 7611, U.S.
Department of Justice,
Washington, DC
20044–7611

and should refer to:
United States v. East Shoshone County Water District,
Civil Action No. 09–00499–EJL,
DOJ Ref. 90–5–1–1–08453.

During the public comment period, the consent decree may be examined on the following Department of Justice Website:
http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/ Consent_Decrees.html


A copy of the decree may also be obtained by mail from:
The Consent Decree Library,
P.O. Box 7611
U.S. Department of Justice,
Washington, DC 20044–7611

or by faxing or e-mailing a request to Tonia Fleetwood (tonia.fleetwood@usdoj.gov),
fax no.(202) 514–0097, phone confirmation number (202) 514–1547.