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WATER SYSTEMS AGREE TO COMPLY WITH SAFE DRINKING WATER LAW

 WATER SYSTEMS AGREE TO COMPLY WITH SAFE DRINKING WATER LAW
 HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The Department of Environmental Resources (DER) has obtained compliance agreements with five public water suppliers and has taken enforcement action against another system, all of whom failed to comply with Pennsylvania's Safe Drinking Water Law, it announced today.
 The six systems targeted by DER all used surface water sources associated with a water-borne disease outbreak or contaminated by Giardia lamblia, a cyst that can cause a severe intestinal illness called giardiasis.
 "This is good news for Pennsylvania because our people depend on their water systems to provide clean water, free of bacteria, viruses and cysts that can cause serious illness or death," DER Secretary Arthur A. Davis said. "We're ensuring that the public is not exposed to an unreasonable and avoidable health risk."
 Davis said joint actions with Nittany Water Co., Centre County, and Laurelton Center, Union County, were filed Monday in Commonwealth Court. Settlements with Houtzdale Municipal Authority, Clearfield County; Hazelton City Authority, Luzerne County; and Altoona City Authority, Blair County, will be filed shortly.
 Also on Monday, DER asked the Commonwealth Court to enforce an administrative order compelling the Fredericksburg Water Association, Blair County, to comply with a filtration regulation.
 Davis said the regulation, published in 1989, required public water systems that use surface water to filter or abandon the use of the surface water source by 1995.
 In 1989, there were 277 systems using unfiltered surface water sources. About 50 of those water systems that posed the greatest threat to public health were required to comply with the filtration rule by Dec. 31, 1991.
 Most of the 50 systems met the deadline, but legal actions have been taken against systems in violation of the filtration regulation.
 In legal actions filed in Commonwealth Court Monday:
 -- Nittany Water Co. agreed to pay $800 a week in civil penalties until it complies with the filtration regulation. The company, serving 1,500 people, will sever its connection to the contaminated source and convert its system to groundwater.
 -- Laurelton Center, a state mental retardation facility operated by the Department of Public Welfare, will pay a $30,000 penalty and is expected to begin construction of a filtration plant in April. The Laurelton water system serves 350 residents and 550 staff.
 -- Fredericksburg Water Association, serving 275 people, was accused of failing to comply with a DER order requiring the association to comply with the filtration regulations by the Dec. 31 deadline.
 Court actions will be filed soon on agreements in principle reached with:
 -- Houtzdale Municipal Authority, serving about 4,900 people, is expected to sign an agreement reflecting its intention to convert its system to groundwater or build a filtration plant for its contaminated sources. The authority was charged Monday with failing to meet the Dec. 31 filtration regulation deadline.
 -- Hazelton City Authority, which has started construction of a filtration plant, has agreed to pay a $10,000 civil penalty and an additional $100 per day until the system complies with the filtration regulation. The authority serves 41,700 people.
 -- Altoona City Authority, serving 62,500 people, will build several filtration plants.
 Davis said systems that failed to meet the Dec. 31 deadline were notified by DER of their obligations and given an opportunity to negotiate a compliance schedule and penalties. Systems that negotiate in good faith were able to minimize their payment of civil penalties of up to $5,000 per day.
 The water systems in Houtzdale, Fredericksburg and Altoona remain liable for civil penalties until they fully comply with the regulations.
 Interim deadlines have been set for the remaining public water systems
using unfiltered surface water sources. Davis said the interim deadlines notify the systems of their obligations to make reasonable progress to comply with the filtration regulation and should prevent systems from falling behind schedule.
 /delval/
 -0- 2/12/92
 /CONTACT: Pam DiSalvo of the Department of Environmental Resources, 717-787-1323/ CO: Department of Environmental Resources ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


CC -- PH027 -- 9304 02/12/92 14:03 EST
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Date:Feb 12, 1992
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