Tuesday, February 24, 2015

DEP: Newport Borough Water Authority Agrees To Address Drinking Water Violations

The Department of Environmental Protection Tuesday announced the Newport Borough Water Authority in Newport, Perry County, has signed a consent order and agreement (COA) to address drinking water treatment, monitoring and reporting violations that occurred in 2013 and 2014.
“DEP took this action not only to ensure the safety of the community’s drinking water supply, but to address ongoing shortcomings of the authority’s operation of its new filter plant,” DEP Southcentral Regional Director Lynn Langer said.  “A state-of-the-art plant is not effective if it’s not operated properly.”   
DEP issued a public water supply permit to the authority in March 2013, authorizing limited-term operation of the new Juniata River filter plant. The authority operated the plant for 75 days during the next 13 months.  
When DEP conducted an evaluation and sanitary inspection of the filter plant in April 2014, it discovered several regulatory and public water supply permit violations as well as numerous operational concerns including:
— The authority failed to accurately record filtered water turbidity levels during the 13 months it operated the plant in 2013 and 2014.  Turbidity is a measurement of the cloudiness of the water and is an indicator of water quality.  
— The authority’s former operator falsely reported to DEP that filtered water turbidity had been recorded and the readings were all acceptable during the months of October and December 2013 and March 2014.
— The authority failed to accurately record and report chlorine residuals necessary to provide reliable inactivation of Giardia through disinfection.
— The authority’s operation of several aspects of the facility did not comply with standards set forth in the public water supply permit.
— Newport failed to notify the public of these issues.
DEP discovered the violations in April 2014 and immediately notified Newport Borough Water Authority.  Last June, the authority agreed to shut down the filter plant until DEP agrees that it can be returned to service.
Under the COA, the authority is required to address the violations by:
— Immediately retaining the services of a professional engineer to address each of the violations identified by DEP in its filter plant evaluation.
— Providing professional engineering oversight of the daily operation of the filter plant.
— Hiring a new certified water system operator.
— Providing notice to the public regarding the issues.
— Paying a civil penalty of $40,000.
If Newport fails to complete the corrective actions according to the schedule spelled out in the COA, the authority will be required to pay a series of additional civil penalties or may be subject to other enforcement.
Meanwhile, the authority has been providing drinking water from several of its permitted wells. Due to the closure of the treatment plant, there are no ongoing health risks as a result of the violations.

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