EPA orders California water company to comply with Safe Drinking Water Act

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in May issued a Unilateral Administrative Order to the Havasu Water Company in Needles, California, to take a series of steps to prevent further violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

In taking this action to protect the health of the community served by the Havasu Water Company, the EPA specifically cited the company’s failure to adhere to the Act’s drinking water regulations, including violation of the maximum allowable level for total trihalomethanes. Trihalomethanes are byproducts that may form during the disinfection process and may threaten human health through long-term exposure at levels above the federal limits.

“A top priority under EPA’s public health mission is to ensure that the drinking water of all of our communities – no matter how big or small, or wealthy or disadvantaged – is safe and reliable,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “We will continue to fully utilize our authority to make sure that safe drinking water standards are met.”

The National Primary Drinking Water Regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act set a maximum contaminant level for total trihalomethanes at 80 micrograms per liter. Long-term exposure to levels above that may lead to increased risk of cancer, along with liver, kidney or central nervous problems. Additional Havasu Water Company violations cited by the EPA include the company’s failure to have qualified personnel operate the water system, failure to provide required public notifications, failure to correct significant deficiencies with the system and failure to report appropriate surface water treatment data.

The Havasu Water Company is a privately-owned community water system located along the western shore of Lake Havasu and within the boundaries of the Chemehuevi Indian Reservation. The system relies on surface water filtration treatment to serve drinking water to approximately 361 people.

The Unilateral Administrative Order requires the company to develop a plan, according to EPA-imposed deadlines, to come into compliance with the total trihalomethanes limit, retain an appropriately certified operator, issue required public notices, address any remaining significant deficiencies, and submit appropriate and timely surface water treatment data.

EPA can issue a Unilateral Administrative Order as an enforceable instrument to require violators to address outstanding violations with corrective actions on an established schedule. F or more information about this order and EPA’s actions, visit Regulatory Oversight of the Havasu Water Company Public Water System, Needles, California.

For more information on reporting possible violations of environmental laws and regulations, visit EPA’s enforcement reporting website.

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