U.S. EPA seeks $27,500 civil penalty against Arizona water company
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has lodged a civil complaint seeking a $27,500 fine against the American Realty & Mortgage Company, alleging the Arizona water company repeatedly disregarded an order to monitor its drinking water supply for lead, copper, and nitrates.
Monitoring is a key component of ensuring water quality for the company’s 50 Pinal County residents, and failing to do so violates the Safe Drinking Water Act. Children are particularly susceptible to the adverse health effects of lead and nitrate in drinking water.
“We are taking action against American Realty to ensure everyone in Pinal County has access to safe drinking water“,” said Alexis Strauss, Water Division director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. ”We will continue to oversee all Arizona public water systems, and ensure the required monitoring of drinking water quality is conducted"
Information about the water company’s drinking water violations was also shared with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the Arizona Corporation Commission, state agencies which have authorities over water utilities in Arizona. The ACC recently placed this system in receivership. Global Resources, the interim operator, is presently running the water system.
The EPA, in seeking a civil penalty of up to $27,500 against the company, is emphasizing the continued and flagrant nature of the violations, and the health risks those violations pose to the approximately 50 customers it serves in Pinal County, Arizona.
American Realty and Mortgage also failed to notify customers about its failure to monitor for lead, copper and nitrates, and of excessive levels of nitrate in the water. This puts customers at further risk because they are not aware of the potential problem, and therefore may not take steps to protect themselves.
Infants below the age of six months who drink water containing nitrate in excess of federal standards can become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. Symptoms include shortness of breath and blue baby syndrome. Elevated blood lead levels in young children can trigger learning disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity, impaired hearing, and brain damage.
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