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Wyoming Drinking Water Program
Administration of the Drinking Water Program in Wyoming
Wyoming is the only State that has not applied to the US Environmental Protection Program for authority to administer the public water supply program. Therefore, Region 8 directly implements the Safe Drinking Water Act in the State of Wyoming. This covers public water systems with 15 or more service connections or that serve 25 or more persons for more than 60 days per year.
As of January 1, 2013 there are 799 active public water supply systems in Wyoming. Approximately seventeen percent of these systems receive at least some of their water from surface water sources. The remaining eighty-three percent receive their water from ground water (wells). Eighty-four percent of active Wyoming systems serve populations of less than 500. Slightly over one percent (11 systems) serve populations of 10,000 or more. Each public water system is classified into one of three categories:
- community public water system, i.e., towns, cites, and other entities that have 15 or more service connections or serve 25 or more persons year-round;
- transient non-community public water systems, i.e., campgrounds, restaurants, and other entities that serve 25 or more different persons more than 60 days per year; and
- non-transient non-community public water systems, i.e. mining operations, schools and others that serve the same 25 persons more than 60 days per year.
In Wyoming, thirty-nine percent are community systems, forty-nine percent are transient non-community systems, and twelve percent are non-transient non-community systems.
Various State agencies in Wyoming and EPA Region 8 coordinate activities to ensure that consumers are served safe drinking water.
Region 8 is responsible for:
- Monitoring/reporting of water testing
- Sanitary surveys
- Technical assistance to water operators
- Laboratory certification
- Compliance determinations
- Formal enforcement
- Homeland security
The State of Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is responsible for:
- Plan and specification review
- Construction/well drilling permits
- Water rights
- Operator certification
- Capacity development
- Source water and wellhead protection
- Operation of state laboratories
- Food and beverage inspections
- Financing drinking water projects
- General public health
EPA hires contractors and relies on assistance from groups such as the Wyoming Water Quality/Pollution Control Association (WWQ&PCA) and the Wyoming Association of Rural Water Systems (WARWS) when implementing the Safe Drinking Water Act. These groups help provide training and technical assistance to operators of public water systems in the State of Wyoming.
Public Water Supply System Operations
Because of the demands on operators to remain in compliance with the ever-changing regulations, the State of Wyoming offers an Operator Certification Program to ensure that operators of public water systems are qualified and their training is up to date.
Operator recruitment and retention have become critical issues in the State of Wyoming. In many cases it is very difficult for municipalities to compete with salaries and benefits offered in the energy business sector.
The National Primary Drinking Water Regulations require operators to monitor for a variety of contaminants on a routine basis under approved sampling and analysis methods. The number of samples and the frequency at which samples must be collected depend on a variety of factors, including:
- whether the drinking water source is surface or ground water,
- the population served by the water system,
- the classification of the water system,
- prior compliance data; and
- whether the system has received a waiver or variance.
Violations occur when public water systems fail to monitor for the required contaminants or when the level of a contaminant detected in a sample exceeds the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for a particular contaminant. Additional monitoring may also be required if a contaminant is detected above a threshold level that is below the MCL.
Public water systems that have significant violations receive an Administrative Order. This Order identifies the violations and specifies measures that must be taken to correct any deficiencies, or to return to compliance with the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations. Monetary penalties are not included with an Administrative Order; however, violation of the Administrative Order may lead to monetary penalties. If an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health exists, EPA may issue an Emergency Administrative Order that may require a boil order, a "do not use" order, or other measures to protect public health until the cause of the problem has been identified and corrected. More serious violations may be addressed by civil judicial actions.