EPA Simplifies Monitoring for Small Public Water Systems

The EPA has recently suspended unregulated contaminant monitoring requirements for small-to-medium drinking water utilities. The change is expected to be effective March 9, 1999 The change could save these utilities more than $1.75 million.

The EPA has recently suspended unregulated contaminant monitoring requirements for small-to-medium drinking water utilities. The change is expected to be effective March 9, 1999 The change could save these utilities more than $1.75 million.

Under the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Regulation (UCMR), all public water systems have to monitor for unregulated contaminants for one year every five years. The change will allow systems serving 10,000 or fewer residents to save the cost of monitoring under the existing regulation.

Approximately 3,410 medium-size systems are affected. Those systems serving 3,300 to 10,000 persons were to begin their third round of monitoring for these contaminants by Jan. 1, 1999.

About 22,000 systems serving less than 3,300 would have been required to perform their third round of tests by Jan. 1, 2001.

EPA is making the change to comply with amendments to the SDWA (Safe Drinking Water Act), which require the organization to overhaul the UCM program. Under these amendments, changes must be made to the list of contaminants and the number of systems that need to monitor.

Since most systems serving 3,300 to 10,000 customers would have needed to initiate another round of monitoring for the contaminants under the existing monitoring program, the change saves this group some trouble.

So far, EPA has received results from 28,000 systems in the two previous rounds of monitoring. The third-round results from larger water systems will provide sufficient information on the contaminants.

The change could save these smaller systems $1,778,000 per year, EPA estimates. The requirement to monitor unregulated contaminants was first established by the 1986 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. The current Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Program implemented under 40 CFR 141.40 was established under three separate rulemakings.

This program includes 34 contaminants listed in EPAs web site, www.epa.gov, to be monitored by all community and non-transient non-community water systems, and 14 contaminants that are only required to be monitored at the discretion of the state.

Authority, Manager Plead To CWA Violations

The Henry County Public Service Authority (HCPSA) and one of its former managers pled guilty recently in federal court in Roanoke, Va., to criminal violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA). Mark L. Nolen, a former plant manager of the Upper Smith River wastewater treatment facility, pled guilty to two felony violations of the CWA and the Henry County Public Service Authority pled guilty to two misdemeanor violations.

Authority, Manager Plead To CWA Violations

The pleas resulted from a two-year investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Attorneys Office in Roanoke, Va., the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

Authority, Manager Plead To CWA Violations

The investigation focused on allegations of Clean Water Act violations including poor solids management, poor operation and maintenance through improper sampling, monitoring and reporting of pollutant discharges and failure to report violations after they were discovered. HCPSAs actions also violated its state-issued Clean Water Act permits.

Authority, Manager Plead To CWA Violations

"We are pleased with the successful outcome of these prosecutions. The case sends a clear message that government owned municipal sewage plants must obey the law," said EPA Regional Administrator W. Michael McCabe. McCabe also hailed the cooperation of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in investigating and preparing this criminal case.

Authority, Manager Plead To CWA Violations

On November 17,1998, federal prosecutors filed charges against HCPSA, Nolen and Thomas Clark, Nolens former supervisor (who served until recently as the manager of the HCPSAs drinking water and sewage treatment division). Clark, who was charged with two related CWA misdemeanors, did not participate in the recent proceedings.

Authority, Manager Plead To CWA Violations

Nolen knowingly permitted solids to accumulate in treatment basins which reduced the capacity of the plant to handle incoming wastewater when it rained. This resulted in solids washing into the Smith River several times between Jan. 1992 and Nov. 1995.

Authority, Manager Plead To CWA Violations

The second count alleges that Nolen instructed HCPSA employees to take multiple monitoring samples from the Piedmont Estates and then report the best results to VADEQ. While the CWA permit for the facility allows multiple sampling, it required that the HCPSA use all sampling results when calculating pollutant concentrations. Nolens selective use of sampling data hid the fact that the Piedmont Estates lagoon violated its permit limits for 14 months from May 1993 through November 1995.

Authority, Manager Plead To CWA Violations

The HCPSA will pay a $100,000 fine. In addition, HCPSA will spend at least $900,000 on environmental projects during a three-year probationary period to implement an environmental compliance program and hire an environmental professional responsible for compliance at the wastewater and drinking water treatment operations and to oversee contractors at HCPSAs sewage treatment facilities. HCPSA will also provide a toll-free telephone number so employees and contractors may report suspected environmental noncompliance.

Authority, Manager Plead To CWA Violations

HCPSA faces a statutory maximum penalty of up to $25,000 fine per day of violation or $200,000 per count, whichever is greater; and five years probation per count. Nolen faces a maximum prison term of three years per count, and a fine of up to $50,000 per day of violation, or $250,000 per count.

Authority, Manager Plead To CWA Violations

The investigation included reviewing HCPSA records dating back to the early 1980s and interviewing many current and former HCPSA employees since the late 1970s.

EPA Settles Lawsuit

EPA, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California have reached agreement with the environmental groups Heal The Bay and Santa Monica Baykeeper, to settle the groups lawsuit concerning pollution problems in over 100 water bodies in Los Angeles and Ventura County watersheds, including the Los Angeles River, Ventura River, Santa Clara River, Malibu Creek, and 25 beaches in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.

EPA Settles Lawsuit

The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, a state agency which was not a party to the lawsuit, has already made commitments to develop pollution reduction plans, known as Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), for many of these waters. In the settlement, EPA guarantees that TMDLs will be established on a specified schedule for all the named pollutants and water bodies over the next 13 years.

EPA Settles Lawsuit

"We all want Los Angeles and Ventura Countys beaches and rivers to be clean and safe, but wanting it doesnt make it happen," said Felicia Marcus, Regional Administrator of EPA. "We now have a road map and schedule to get the job done by state and federal agencies working with all sectors of the community."

EPA Settles Lawsuit

Nationally, there have been more than 25 lawsuits related to the Clean Water Act TMDL program. This settlement is the third TMDL lawsuit settled in California. The first involved Northern California coastal rivers, and the second involved the Newport Bay watershed in Southern California.

Sulfate in Drinking Water Study Fails to Find Link to Diarrhea

A study on the effects of sulfate in public drinking water consumed by infants and transients found no direct link between high levels of sulfate and occurrence of osmotic diarrhea, according to a report from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers For Disease Control (CDC).

Sulfate in Drinking Water Study Fails to Find Link to Diarrhea

The two agencies recently completed the study, entitled "Health Effects from Exposure to High Levels of Sulfate in Drinking Water." It was designed to examine the association between consumption of tap water containing high levels of sulfate and reports of osmotic diarrhea in susceptible populations, which in this case were identified as infants and transients.

Sulfate in Drinking Water Study Fails to Find Link to Diarrhea

Although the research was mandated by the 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act, researchers were unable to conduct a study of infants because they could not identify enough exposed infants from which to draw a study population. Their first attempt to recruit volunteers in South Dakota ended with only one participant agreeing to complete all of the study activities. A survey of another group of women indicated that only 15 percent planned to use tap water to mix infant formula. The rest were either breastfeeding or using filtered water for their infant formula.

Sulfate in Drinking Water Study Fails to Find Link to Diarrhea

Experimental trials with adult volunteers, had better results. However, researchers did not find an association between acute exposure to sodium sulfate in tap water and reports of diarrhea. That study involved 105 volunteers from the Atlanta, Ga., area who were given bottled water laced with levels of sulfate ranging from 0 to 1200 mg/L sulfate. The volunteer group included CDC employees and employees at the U.S. EPA Region IV office.

Sulfate in Drinking Water Study Fails to Find Link to Diarrhea

Researchers analyzed the number of bowel movements recorded each day by study participants. There were no statistically significant differences in the bowel movements among the groups on any day during the study.

Sulfate in Drinking Water Study Fails to Find Link to Diarrhea

As a supplement to the Sulfate Study and literature review, CDC, in coordination with EPA, convened a Sulfate Workshop in Atlanta on September 28, 1998. The expert scientists reviewed the available literature and the Sulfate Study results, and provided their opinions in response to a series of questions about the health effects from exposure to sulfate in drinking water.

Sulfate in Drinking Water Study Fails to Find Link to Diarrhea

Additional information on the Sulfate study and the Sulfate Workshop may be obtained by visiting the EPA Office of Groundwater & Drinking Water Internet site at: www.epa.gov/OGWDW/sulfate.html.

Preliminary Draft Released On Proposed Groundwater Rule

The Environmental Protection agency has released a preliminary draft of the proposed Groundwater Rule (GWR), which focuses on preventing waterborne related illnesses associated with source water contamination and untreated groundwater.

Preliminary Draft Released On Proposed Groundwater Rule

The Safe Drinking Water Act as amended in 1996 called for the creation of a new groundwater treatment rule.

Preliminary Draft Released On Proposed Groundwater Rule

The draft proposal takes a "multiple-barrier approach" to groundwater treatment and distribution that relies upon four major components: 1) periodic onsite inspection of ground water systems requiring the evaluation of eight key areas and the identification of significant deficiencies; 2) source water monitoring for systems drawing from vulnerable aquifers without treatment or with other indications of risk; 3) a requirement for correction of significant deficiencies; and 4) a requirement for treatment where contamination or significant deficiencies are not or cannot be corrected, and alternative sources of drinking water are not available.

Preliminary Draft Released On Proposed Groundwater Rule

The draft was released for commented in mid-January, with the comment period closing in mid February. Copies of the draft may be obtained at the EPA Office of Groundwater & Drinking Water Internet site.

EMAP Program Gets New Director

Dr. Michael McDonald has been named Director of the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Research Triangle Park. McDonald will lead research efforts in the United States to monitor the health of regional ecosystems and determine the impact of pollution and other stressors on them.

EMAP Program Gets New Director

The Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program, launched in 1990, is a major component of EPAs ecological research efforts. The program is developing the tools necessary to monitor and assess the status and trends of the nations ecological resources.

EMAP Program Gets New Director

Prior to joining EPA, McDonald served as director of the University of Minnesota Sea Grant College Program. He was also a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the university where he conducted research on developing solutions to multidisciplinary environmental problems.

EMAP Program Gets New Director

McDonald received a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering and Zoology from N.C. State University. He has served on numerous national, regional and state committees. He is a resident of Cary.

Other News

Gerhardt Blain, owner of a mobile home court in Billings, Mont., has been indicted in Western Montana U.S. District Court for violating the Clean Water Act.

Other News

He allegedly installed a pipe from the septic system of his 200-unit mobile home park to a slough leading to the Yellowstone River. The slough was upstream from the Billings drinking water intake. The federal government said discharges could have been as high as 100 gal/minute.

Other News

Eugene Fribis, owner of Imperial Utilities Corp., has been sentenced to 10 months confinement and fined $100,000 in St. Louis US. District Court.

Other News

The government alleged Fribis was responsible for the August 1977 discharge of wastewater, sewage, and sludge from the Seckman School facility in St. Louis County into a creek that emptied into the Mississippi River.

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