Statement concerning EPA Administrative Order and EPA Press Release concerning Village Water System
STATEMENT OF VILLAGE ADMINISTRATOR AT AUGUST 15, 2016 BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEETING CONCERNING EPA ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER AND EPA PRESS RELEASE CONCERNING VILLAGE WATER SYSTEM
I would like to take this opportunity to address a News Release issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency dated August 11, 2016 entitled “EPA Takes Action to Address Lead in Drinking Water Problems in Tarrytown, New York”. The Village received an Administrative Order, Notice of Violation and Request for Information that was dated on August 8, 2016 which related to a review of Village Water Department records from 2013 through 2015. The EPA reviewed the Village’s records on April 27, 28 and 29 of this year.
In the Press Release, it was noted that “Tarrytown was inspected because recent sampling results by the village showed action level exceedance for lead in drinking water. Out of 31 samples, four exceeded the EPA’s action level for lead.” The four samples referred to in the Press Release were samples from 2013. Two of the samples were taken on June 19, 2013, one on June 20, 2013 and one on August 1, 2013. During 2013, the Village was sampling 30 sites. Per the EPA regulations, if three of the 30 samples exceeded the lead threshold, the Village water system would not be in violation. However, since there was a fourth sample that exceeded the regulatory threshold, the Village was in violation of the regulations.
Due to the violation, the Village had to increase testing from 30 test sites once per year to 60 test sites twice per year. Since the Village has increased the testing in 2014, there have been no violations relating to the number of testing sites that exceeded the lead threshold in the EPA regulations. In fact, the last testing results of 62 sites, for the period from January 1, 2016 through June 30, 2016 evidenced one testing location that exceeded the lead threshold. In order for the Village’s water system to be in violation, 7 water samples would have to exceed the lead threshold in the regulations.
The Press Release also notes actions that the Village must implement within specified time periods which are included in the Administrative Order. Village staff met the day after the notice was received, along with the Village’s water engineering consultant, to map out the strategy to address all of the requirements in the administrative order. The Village fully intends to comply with all of the requirements in the administrative order.
I would like to go through a number of the violations included in the Administrative Order and explain what actions the Village will be taking to address the violations. One violation related to the request to provide the letter from the Westchester County Department of Health concerning their approval of the Village’s corrosion control program. At the time of the EPA review of Village documents, the Village was unable to locate the requested document. The Village has since located the document and will be providing it to the EPA.
Three violations relate to the testing sites that the Village uses for water sampling purposes. The Village is required to take samples from what is known as Tier 1 sites, which are single family homes, constructed after 1982, where there is a good likelihood that the water service line into the house is made of copper with lead solder or single family houses, regardless of the construction date, where there is a good likelihood that the water service line is lead. The Village submitted the required number of samples, but it was discovered after the fact that at least one sample was not from an approved Tier 1 sampling site and that no explanation was provided as to why the Village did not have sufficient Tier 1 sites and made a change from the approved listing of Tier 1 sites. The Village has now prepared and submitted to the Westchester County Department of Health a listing of 97 Tier 1 sites for approval so as to avoid any repeat of this violation.
One violation related to the length of time that the sample remained motionless in the plumbing in the single family home. Samples are obtained from residents who live in the homes designated as Tier 1 and who are willing to provide assistance to the Village in the provision of the water samples. Bottles to take the sample and instructions on how to take a sample are provided to these civic minded residents and the Village then collects the samples that are sent to the Westchester County lab for testing. The instructions note that the water must remain motionless in the water pipes in the house for a minimum period of 6 hours. The Village submitted at least one sample that had not remained motionless for the 6 hour period. The Village will assure in the future that all samples submitted for testing meet the 6 hour minimum requirement.
Three violations relate to actions the Village was to institute within specific timeframes based upon the four samples that exceeded the lead threshold. One was an educational notice requirement, one was a testing requirement within the Village’s distribution system and one was a timing issue for moving from reduced testing to regular testing (30 testing sites to 60 testing sites). In all cases, the Village did not meet the timing requirements in the administrative regulations. Should the Village exceed the lead thresholds in the future and be deemed in violation of the administrative regulations, the Village will take all steps to assure compliance with the EPA regulatory requirements. The Village is working with our water consultant to prevent such exceedances from occurring in the future, but should it occur, the Village will make sure that all required actions are instituted.
One violation issued by the EPA relates to the regulatory requirement to provide the testing results to all households that participate in the testing program. The results had been hand delivered by Village staff to the testing participants. That is a violation of the regulations, which require that the results be mailed via certified mail. The Village will be mailing all results in the future in conformance with the regulations.
One violation related to the timing of submitting test results to the Westchester County Department of Health. The results must be submitted within 10 days of the end of the monitoring period. The Village did not meet this time requirement and will make sure that it meets this requirement in the future.
The Village takes very seriously the violations included in the Administrative Order from the EPA and will be taking action on all violations to assure compliance in the future and to meet the demands of the request for information.