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U.S. EPA orders Yavapai county town to monitor drinking water

Release Date: 12/30/2003
Contact Information: Laura Gentile, 415/947-4227 (

Public water system failed to monitor for lead, copper and nitrate

SAN FRANCISCO -- Last week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered a small public water system in Paulden, Ariz. to monitor its drinking water for lead, copper and nitrates, as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The water system for the Gilpin Trailer Park, which serves 45 people, is required to monitor the drinking water in local homes by March 2004 and again before September 2004. Failure to monitor could result in fines of up to $27,500 per day.

"Public drinking water systems are responsible for the quality of our tap water," said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA's Water Division. "When systems fail to monitor as required by law, we cannot ensure the public that the tap water they are providing to customers is safe to drink. Protecting public health is our top priority."

Last week, the EPA issued a similar order to a public water system in Meadview, Ariz. Last October, the EPA ordered 22 small water systems in Arizona towns to monitor their drinking water for lead and copper.

Since 1993, the EPA has required small public water systems to monitor drinking water regularly for lead, copper and nitrates. If contaminants are detected, systems are required to correct the problem through treatment or pipe replacement.

There are 650 public water systems serving small communities in Arizona that are required to monitor drinking water for lead, copper and nitrates. Systems serving fewer than 100 people are required to monitor at least five homes.

The EPA has determined that lead, copper and nitrates can pose a health concern at certain exposure levels. Relatively low levels of lead can cause high blood pressure and kidney problems in adults. In children and infants, lead has been linked to delays in physical and mental development, including learning disabilities. Nitrates at certain concentrations can cause serious illness or death in infants below the age of six months who drink contaminated water.