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EPA letter outlines water problems in East Carbon area

Sun Advocate reporter

In an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) letter addressed to East Carbon City Mayor Orlando La Fontaine dated Sept. 9 2009, the EPA informed the city of East Carbon that national primary drinking water regulations had been violated. According to the letter, the city surface water treatment plant failed to submit a surface water monitoring plan and failed to monitor for E.coli bacteria, nitrate, inorganic contaminates, volatile organic contaminants and disinfection byproducts.

However, the letter also states that, currently, the city is in compliance with regulations. According to Lisa Kahn, EPA Region Eight team leader, recent sampling contained no contamination.

Most of the city's violations occurred sometime during 2008 and continued until 2009. One of the longest periods that lacked monitoring occurred between Jan. 1, 2002 and Dec. 30, 2007. This period was not monitored for volatile organic contaminants.

As the law stands, the city failed to notify the public of two of its violations (volatile organic contaminants and E.coli bacteria) within a year, and also failed to notify the state within 48 hours of the violations.

While Mayor La Fontaine could not be contacted, East Carbon City water treatment plant operator James Wayman indicated that many of the problems were from a change of staff.

"What happened was the guy who was doing the samples didn't teach anything to the new staff. He kind of had a falling out, but all the samples have been taken," said Mr. Wayman by phone. "We were just in error when changing hands; the EPA also doesn't help out until we're in trouble and it's been a big mess."

Currently, the city has been in compliance with the order and in cooperation with the state. Further violations of the order carry a civil penalty of up to $37,000.

According to East Carbon resident Joyce Hunt, the city water has been yellow at times and in general "just bad."

"I can't tell if it's just the dishes, or if it's backing up, but it's down right brown and yellow," said Hunt, by phone.

To view the original letter from the EPA, please click here

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