DEP Fines Steelton Borough Water Authority $55,200 for Drinking Water Violations

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The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced today that Steelton Borough Water Authority, Dauphin County, has signed a $55,200 consent order and agreement (COA) with DEP to address drinking water treatment and reporting violations that occurred in 2013.


“Upon discovery of these violations, DEP notified Steelton Borough Water Authority who responded promptly and appropriately,” DEP South-central Regional Director Lynn Langer said. “Since then, Steelton has been working with DEP on resolving the violations and has been carefully monitoring the situation to protect public health.”


On Nov. 20, 2013, DEP conducted a filter plant evaluation and sanitary inspection of Steelton’s filter plant treatment system. During the inspection, DEP discovered the following violations:


  • Steelton failed to provide adequate disinfection of Giardia lamblia, an organism commonly found in surface water that is capable of causing disease, for at least 24 days in 2013. Steelton also did not report this treatment failure to DEP;
  • Steelton failed to record filtered water turbidity levels, a measurement of the cloudiness of the water which is an indicator of water quality, for 108 separate days in 2013;
  • Steelton’s former operator falsely reported to DEP during the months of August, September and October 2013 that filtered water turbidity had been recorded and the readings were all acceptable; and
  • Steelton operated several modifications to the facilities without a Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) permit.


According to the SDWA, a plant that treats surface water must provide reliable inactivation of Giardia through disinfection. Steelton did not meet this requirement, which was created to protect public health.


To address the violations, under the COA, Steelton Water Authority is required to implement a number of corrective actions, such as immediate use of a method to accurately calculate the inactivation of Giardia, submission of all the documentation necessary to obtain the required operation permits; creation of a protocol for conducting a filter performance study; and revision of their Emergency Response Plan and Operation and Maintenance Plan to include an updated procedure for issuing public notices.


If Steelton fails to complete the corrective actions according to the schedule in the COA, Steelton will be required to pay a series of additional civil penalties. Steelton Water Authority will pay the $55,200 penalty in four quarterly payments, with the last payment due April 15, 2015. DEP has received the first payment of $13,800.


DEP has been inspecting Steelton’s system once per week to confirm satisfactory operation of the facilities, and will continue to do so until the department is satisfied that Steelton Water Authority is providing adequate treatment. There are no ongoing health risks as a result of the violations.