EPA Issues Boil Alert for Customers of Omaha Tribe's Macy Water System
Nebraska system experienced widespread loss of pressure in recent months
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 is advising customers of the Omaha Tribe’s Macy (Neb.) Water System to boil water provided by the tribally-owned and operated water utility. This notice is being issued concurrently with the Omaha Tribe to assure the public is fully informed. As soon as sufficient water sampling data indicates the public’s health is protected, the boil order could be lifted.
For several months, the Omaha Tribe’s Macy public water system has experienced multiple and widespread losses of pressure in the distribution system caused by line breaks and intermittent operation of the system. When this occurs, there is a potential for fecal contamination or other disease-causing organisms to enter the distribution system.
In addition, the water utility did not collect water samples in December 2010 to test for contamination. All public water systems are required to sample and test water regularly for the presence of fecal coliform or E. coli. Without prompt and regular testing, the safety of the water cannot be determined.
Until further notice, all water dispensed by the Omaha Tribe’s Macy public water system used for drinking, brushing teeth, cooking, making ice, washing dishes or otherwise used for human consumption should be boiled. The water should be boiled for one to three minutes. Boiling kills any bacteria or organism that may have entered the water.
EPA believes that the water boiling practice should continue until sufficient water sampling data indicate the public's health is protected and communicated by EPA and the Omaha Macy Water System. Failure to do so could pose serious health risks, especially for very old and very young persons, or persons of any age with weakened immune systems.
The responsibility for ensuring safe drinking water is shared by EPA, states, tribes, water systems and the public. The tribe is working with EPA and other federal and state entities to get the public water system repaired.