The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality is suing the owner of a small domestic water system in Nez Perce County, alleging that he has failed to comply with state drinking water regulations.
The state filed the legal action in 2nd District Court earlier this week against Michael Bedard and his company, Red Rock Water LLC. The water system serves 60 residents through 27 connections, including a small subdivision at the base of the Lewiston Hill and multiple businesses along U.S. Highway 12, according to Michael Camin, the water quality engineering manager for DEQ’s Lewiston office. Commercial users include the Idaho Transportation Department weigh station, Clearwater Power and RnR RV.
“Red Rock Water LLC was out of compliance with drinking water regulations and entered into a Consent Order with DEQ in August 2019 to resolve those issues,” Camin wrote in an email to the Lewiston Tribune. “Progress has stalled and the drinking water system remains out of compliance.”
The lawsuit aims to get Red Rock Water back into compliance with drinking water regulations and ensure that the water produced by the system is safe for consumption, Camin said.
Bedard said he had not yet received a copy of the lawsuit earlier this week and therefore had no comment. The Tribune contacted several property owners served by the water system this week, but none would comment on the record.
Camin said he is uncertain of the age of the water system, but DEQ records indicate that it was in service as of Jan. 1, 1974. Bedard became the administrative contact for the system in December 2015, but Camin did not know exactly when Bedard purchased it.
“Our records indicate that Mr. Bedard lives in Troy and does not reside near the Red Rock facilities,” Camin wrote.
In a notification issued in late January, DEQ issued a voluntary boil order because of coliform bacterial contamination. “Total coliform bacteria is not necessarily a public health threat, but is an indicator of bacterial contamination in the water system,” the notice said.
Camin said DEQ issued the advisory after it conducted bacteria and disinfection monitoring at the ITD weigh station in January which indicated the system’s chlorinator was not functioning. But on Jan. 31 and again in February, Red Rock Water conducted routine monitoring and provided chlorine information that allowed the agency to issue a follow-up order rescinding the boil order.
Typical water systems are made safe through a multi-barrier approach that includes several components, such as proper construction, operation and monitoring, Camin said. The consent order Bedard signed in August included requirements for design and construction, submitting administrative documents, monitoring water quality and providing public notification. But DEQ alleges that Red Rock Water violated the terms of that order and was not responsive to requests to discuss the compliance issues, Camin said.
The consent order requirements include the design and construction of a reliable electrical system because of past failures, a sample site plan for coliform bacteria monitoring, the monitoring of several other contaminants, and public notification to inform consumers of both the quality of their water and how the system is operating.
No hearings have been set in the case.
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