New York water utility must build $138M water filtration plant under settlement with EPA

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SDWA EPA
In a EPA statement about the settlement, the agency noted that there was a failure to act from the utility, based in Mamaroneck, New York, (pictured) on a required administrative order to build the filtration plant. Leon718, stock.adobe.com

As part of a settlement against Westchester Joint Water Works (WJWW) and three local governments in New York state, the defendants must build a $138 million drinking water filtration plant and pay a fine to resolve violations over supplied water that exceeded legal limits for certain chemicals resulting from disinfection.

The federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) violations date back to 2019 due to the presence of contaminants that are known to threaten public health in the public water system in excess of the level set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The local governments in violation of the Surface Water Treatment Rule of the SDWA were the town/village of Harrison, the village of Mamaroneck, and the town of Mamaroneck.

In addition to the construction of the filtration facility, the defendants will pay New York state a $650,000 civil penalty and spend at least $6.8 million on two state water quality benefit projects.

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The water exceeded legal limits for five regulated haloacetic acids known as HAA5, resulting from the disinfection process. The chemicals are linked to cancer as well as developmental and reproductive health effects. The failure violates SWDA’s Stage 2 Disinfectants and Disinfection Byproducts Rule. 

In a EPA statement about the settlement, the agency noted that there was a failure to act from the utility on a required administrative order to build the filtration plant.

“WJWW will build a drinking water filtration plant that will ensure clean and safe drinking water for 120,000 people in Westchester County, immediately pay a $600,000 civil penalty to the federal government and implement a $900,000 Supplemental Environmental Project to improve source water quality through decreased stormwater discharge into the Rye Lake section of the Kensico Reservoir,” announced EPA Region 2 Administrator Lisa Garcia. 

The supplemental environmental project for Rye Lake is expected to improve source water quality in the reservoir by decreasing natural organic material and turbidity, stated the EPA.

A consent decree from the settlement establishes various interim deadlines for the drinking water filtration plant construction project and requires WJWW to continue to implement measures to ensure the safety of its water supply until the filtration plant is operational.

The settlement involves the EPA, the Department of Justice, and the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

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