Pa. DEP to remove water system owner, operator

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is taking steps to remove the owner and operator of a Venango County water treatment facility who has failed to provide reliable and safe source water for residents of Emlenton...

MEADVILLE, PA, Oct. 24, 2008 -- The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is taking steps to remove the owner and operator of a Venango County water treatment facility who has failed to provide reliable and safe source water for residents of Emlenton.

"The owner and operator of the water treatment facility is unable to voluntarily restore quality drinking water to the residents of Emlenton," said DEP Regional Director Kelly Burch. "We are seeking an immediate change in management at the Emlenton water treatment plant in order to begin correcting the operational deficiencies at the plant so that we can lift the boil water advisory as soon as it is safe to do so."

DEP joined the Office of Consumer Advocate on Oct. 22 to file an emergency petition before the Public Utility Commission to install a new certified operator at the Emlenton water treatment plant. The current certified operator is Jeffrey Foley, who owns the Emlenton Water Co.

DEP will petition the State Board for Certification of Water and Wastewater Systems Operators next week to request that Foley's operator certificate be revoked.

"These actions do not mean that the boil water advisory in Emlenton will be lifted immediately," Burch said. "After new management is in place and operations at the plant improve, the department will reassess the facility and sample water quality to assure that customers can receive safe drinking water on a consistent basis. Then, the ban will be lifted."

Under two orders, one issued by DEP on May 22 and another by Commonwealth Court on Aug. 7, Emlenton Water Co. was to submit standard operating procedures for DEP approval that would ensure the plant would be operated effectively over a wide range of conditions and in the absence of the certified operator who may not be on site at all times.

This week, DEP disapproved Foley's proposed operating procedures for a third time.

Since April 29, households and businesses in Emlenton have been boiling their water to kill the intestinal parasites that were not being removed due to deficiencies in the water system's filtering process. The water was being drawn from the Allegheny River.

>> More information on water quality in Pennsylvania [keyword: Water Quality]

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