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Prevent Water Pollution

The Lower Yakima Valley in Washington State appears to have a challenge with well-water, as reported in the Dec 5/08 edition of the Yakima Herald.

The US EPA has convened a meeting with + a dozen agencies responsible for public health and the environment.

Several options seem to be available and are being considered:

  • Offer grants/loans to communities to build public water systems or to drill deeper wells;

  • Enforcement of existing laws, including declaring the area a "sole source acquifer" wherein the Federal Government can withhold grants and subsidies to agriculture if that activity is viewed as a threat to the water supply;

  • Invocation of an emergency section of the Safe Water Drinking Act by declaring that a specific enterprise, eg. a farm, is causing a contaminant to enter a public water system or acquifer.

    $15,000 per day penalties are possible where the polluter fails to supply a clean source of water as s/he corrects the situation.

    This EPA authority has been used in North Carolina where swine producers were polluting drinking water with nitrates.

  • The EPA could review dairies to verify they are adhering to their legally mandated dairy-manure management plans.

  • The EPA could locate and cap abandoned wells which are seen to be conduits for contaminants to leach into drinking water supplies and recover the cost from the land owners.