EPA issues order to Baltimore for SDWA compliance

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a unilateral administrative order (UAO) to the City of Baltimore to comply with Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) safeguards designed to protect public health from “illnesses linked to Cryptosporidium, Giardia and other bacteria from animal waste which can contaminate drinking water.”

EPA has been working closely with the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), and MDE said it supports this action.

EPA has cited the City of Baltimore for noncompliance with the Long-Term Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule, the Safe Drinking Water Act regulation designed to protect public drinking water supplies from Cryptosporidium and other bacteria. According to EPA, the city has also not fully complied with a July 2010 consent order with EPA requiring Baltimore to cover and/or provide treatment for its uncovered finished water reservoirs by Dec. 31, 2018.  Two of the city’s finished water reservoirs – Druid Lake and Ashburton – remain uncovered and untreated. 

EPA said it is in communication with the City of Baltimore on this matter and remains hopeful to reach an agreement to address concerns with compliance. However, EPA said it has determined that a unilateral order is appropriate at this time because of repeated delays by the city.

Among other actions, EPA’s order requires the city to:

  • Respond to EPA and MDE in writing within 7 days of the effective date of the order (May 15, 2023) outlining actions it has taken and will take to comply with the order;
  • Conduct monthly monitoring and sampling of the Druid Lake and Ashburton reservoirs; and
  • Submit monthly reports on the progress the City is making to install tanks to replace the two uncovered finished reservoirs. 

The Safe Drinking Water Act is the principal federal law ensuring the quality of Americans’ drinking water supply. Under this statute, EPA sets standards for drinking water quality for public water systems and oversees the states, localities, and water suppliers who implement those standards. The law protects drinking water and its sources — rivers, lakes, reservoirs, springs, and ground water wells.

For more information about SDWA regulations: epa.gov/dwstandardsregulations   

For a copy of the order: City of Baltimore SDWA UAO | US EPA.

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