Pennsylvania water authority fined for failing to maintain drinking water standards

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Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has fined a local water authority for failing to maintain adequate disinfection of water delivered to its customers in November 2013.

The Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority (WPJWA), which serves customers in the southwest region of the state, has been ordered to pay a penalty of $114,000 for violations of Safe Drinking Water regulations. It’s the largest such penalty in the southwest region in the last 20 years, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Susan Malone, DEP regional director, explained that community water systems are required to maintain a minimum disinfectant concentration in water that enters the distribution system. But although the water was being disinfected, it failed to meet DEP standards at least 15 times during November 2013.

The water authority is also required to notify the department of violations within one hour and to inform customers within 24 hours, but WPJWA did neither, Malone said.

No illnesses or customer complaints were reported, DEP spokesman John Poister told thePost-Gazette.

WPJWA stated that the violations occurred because its water treatment officials did not know that they were required to maintain the minimum disinfectant concentration. The water authority will provide 15 hours of disinfection training to its staff in order to address this shortcoming.

The authority, which serves about 120,000 individuals, stressed that there is no immediate risk and customers do not need to use alternatives such as bottled water.

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