Oil Patch prevalent in drinking water violations, but officials say most issues are corrected

WILLISTON, N.D. – Crew camps, RV parks and other water systems in oil-producing counties dominate a list released Monday of drinking water violations issued last year, but officials say most issues have been corrected.

The North Dakota Department of Health issued 236 major violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2012, primarily for public water systems that failed to provide samples for monitoring.

Williams and McKenzie counties had the most violations, largely for workforce housing, mobile home parks and RV parks that are housing oilfield workers and other new residents.

LeeAnn Tillotson, environmental scientist with the North Dakota Department of Health’s Drinking Water Program, said most violations are due to a lack of education or staff turnover. Most of the entities that had violations are now in compliance, she said.

“They do want to do the right thing and they want to comply with the rules,” Tillotson said.

The most serious violations the department issued in 2012 were three acute level violations, all for water systems in the Oil Patch.

Bi-Hutch Court Mobile Home Park in Dunn County, Sweetwater Water Hauler in Billings County and Vac-U-Jet Septic and Sump Service in Williams County each received a violation after fecal coliform or E. coli was detected in the water, the report said.

Health officials quickly respond to acute violations and each of those cases has been corrected, Tillotson said. Consumers also should have received notification of those violations, she said.

The vast majority of violations was failure to sample or monitor. Prairie Acres RV Park in Williams County had seven failing-to-monitor violations in 2012, but is now complying with the rules, Tillotson said. The health department also worked with water systems that exceeded the acceptable levels for arsenic and other contaminants.

“It looks a bit alarming when we send the list out, but we certainly are working with them right away,” Tillotson said.

Overall, the Department of Health issued 274 certificates of compliance to operators and public water systems in 2012.

In 2012, North Dakota had 604 public water systems. A public water system can be a whole town or individual schools or parks. The systems provide water for human consumption to at least 15 service connections or an average of at least 25 people for at least 60 days each year. Of the 604 systems, 133 of them incurred major or minor drinking water violations in 2012.

To get a copy of the full Drinking Water Compliance Report, visit http://www.ndhealth.gov/mf/forms/acr/2012acr.pdf or call (701) 328-5211.

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