PINEDALE – While the Environmental Protection Agency is bound by legislation to notify the town of Pinedale that its water supply violated standards, there could be an out that eliminates the requirement for a $16-million water filtration system.
Mayor Matt Murdock updated the council saying tests in October are showing no fecal coliform or e. coli and the water is safe to drink. However, in a call with the EPA and representatives from the state’s congressional delegation, Murdock was warned that a letter of noncompliance had been sent by EPA Region VIII.
The water in Fremont Lake was tested and more than five samples in July and August exceeded the 20 allowable fecal colony units, the maximum allowed for a water system that does not use a filtration system.
Instead, Pinedale treats the water with chlorine and ultraviolet light.
Once the town receives the EPA’s letter, the town officially will have 60 days to respond. The town has two choices – either add a filtration system within 18 months or form a work group and study the problem.
If a study is conducted, the town must implement any recommendations, Murdock said.
Murdock said that plan can include limiting grazing access for anyone within a certain number of feet of Fremont Lake or lowering the intake for the town’s drinking water.
With Zedi Laboratory moving its Pinedale office, the town is also now forced to send the water samples two times a week to Zedi’s Riverton lab. Murdock said Zedi still has not confirmed the Riverton lab is certified to test for fecal coliform. If it is not, the nearest lab will be Billings, Mont.
Murdock is reviewing the necessary steps for town employees to be trained and certified by the EPA to do the tests in-house. He said the goal is to complete the certification before January, so an employee is not driving twice a week to either Riverton or Billings.
While Zedi is willing to send a courier one time a week to meet the eight-hour deadline between the time of sampling to testing, a town employee would have to make the trip on the additional date each week.
As well as getting employees trained, some additional lab equipment will need to be purchased.
Murdock said in moving forward with forming a work group and study, he recommends hiring a specialist.
“It will spare our staff and give the plan more credibility with the EPA,” Murdock said.