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Celebrating Safe Drinking Water in Wilson Hills

Release Date: 6/27/2000
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith (215) 814-5543

Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543

HAWLEY, Pa. - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP) lifted a long-standing boil water advisory for residents in the Wilson Hills housing development in Pike County, Pa. As a result of enforcement actions by state and federal environmental agencies, 150 customers of the Tafton Water System can brush their teeth or drink publicly supplied drinking water for the first time in nearly five years without boiling it.

“It is unfortunate, but not uncommon, that small privately-owned drinking water systems fail to deliver the product their customers pay for - - safe drinking water. We will continue to insist that owner/operators comply with drinking water laws,” said Bradley Campbell, mid-Atlantic regional administrator.

Residents in the housing development had been under a continuous boil-water notice since April 1996 because the water coming from the Tafton water system was not adequately chlorinated.

Following numerous violations of federal and state safe drinking water laws, the owners/operators who are responsible for the Tafton Water System walked away from the system in July 1997, leaving the system in disrepair and under a boil-water advisory. The homeowners were left to operate the system themselves or face loss of their water supply.

Federal and state environmental officials advised residents to boil water and filed a complaint against Richard Freeman, one of the owners/operators of the system. In June 1999, Freeman agreed to repair the system to allow lifting of the boil-water advisory. When Freeman failed to comply with the terms of the settlement, he was then found in civil contempt of court. To avoid incarceration, Freeman made the necessary repairs, and the boil-water advisory has been lifted.

The partial settlement does not relieve Freeman, or the other defendants in this case, from liability for penalties or for the long-term operation of the system. EPA and PaDEP are continuing their enforcement efforts to obtain appropriate penalties and ensure long-term operation of the system in compliance with safe drinking water laws.