EPA Orders Russian Village to Provide Safe Drinking Water to Residents
The Seattle office of the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it ordered the residents of Nahodka and Kluchevaya, known collectively as Nikolaevsk Third Village, to immediately comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Specifically, the EPA is ordering Third village to comply with monitoring requirements of their existing drinking water system and to comply with the Surface Water Treatment Rule of the Safe Drinking Water Act within 18 months, or substitute another approved source for their drinking water supply.
Lacking both filtration and disinfection treatment, the water could easily become contaminated with dangerous pathogens such as E. coli, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium. Since 1992 Third Village's approximately 60 residents have been advised by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) to boil their water before using it because limited testing on the water has shown the presence of coliform bacteria, an indicator of unhealthy water that may contain the above-listed pathogens. The state's "boil-water" advisory will remain in effect until an approved treatment system is in place or an alternative water source is secured.
Since 1991, the EPA and ADEC have sent 40 separate notices and/or letters to Third Village notifying its leaders that the system was out of compliance with basic safe drinking water standards. The State of Alaska has also informed Third Village leaders that funds to upgrade its system are available. Thus far, however, the leadership of the village has declined such assistance.
The EPA is encouraging Third Village to connect to an existing and approved system in Nikolaevsk First Village. Capital costs for a connection to First Village are estimated to be $650,000 considerably less than the cost of developing a new source or treating the existing source. The EPA requests full community participation in deciding the appropriate course of action for Third Village.
The EPA order requires corrective action within 18 months. Third Village is also required to notify all water users of precautions they should take to protect their health. If it fails to comply with the EPA order, it risks incurring fines of up to $27,500 per day of violation.