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U.S. EPA orders Lake Mead 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 and copper

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

The water system for the Lake Mead City Community Cooperative, which serves 250 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 Paulden, 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 and copper. 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 and copper. Systems serving more than 100 people are required to monitor at least ten homes.

The EPA has determined that lead and copper 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. Copper can cause liver and kidney damage at elevated levels.