Manhattan U.S. Attorney And EPA Announce Lawsuit Against Westchester County For Failing To Comply With The Federal Safe Drinking Water Act
Suit Alleges That Westchester’s Water District No. 1, Which Supplies Water To Residents Of Municipalities Including Scarsdale, White Plains, And Yonkers, Fails To Fully Treat A Significant Portion Of The Water It Supplies For The Parasite Cryptosporidium
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Judith Enck, Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), announced today that the United States has filed a civil lawsuit against the County of Westchester, New York (“Westchester”) alleging violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (“SDWA”).
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “The federal Safe Drinking Water Act is designed to protect public health by requiring suppliers of water to take steps to prevent water-borne diseases from being transmitted to the public. Westchester’s prolonged failure to comply with treatment rules designed to prevent cryptosporidiosis is unacceptable.”
EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck stated: “Westchester County has an obligation to protect the public and come into compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. In 2013, it is hard to believe there is resistance to taking action to prevent water-borne diseases.”
The lawsuit alleges that since April 2012 Westchester, through its Water District No. 1, has failed to comply with an SDWA rule that requires municipal drinking water suppliers to treat all unfiltered surface water for Cryptosporidium, a microscopic parasite. Cryptosporidium can cause cryptosporidiosis, a potentially fatal gastrointestinal illness in humans with symptoms that include diarrhea, nausea and abdominal cramps. There is no known treatment for cryptosporidiosis, and symptoms may persist for two weeks or longer in otherwise healthy adults and can be life-threatening for more vulnerable individuals.
Westchester’s Water District No. 1 supplies water to residents of municipalities including Scarsdale, White Plains, and Yonkers. According to the lawsuit, Westchester has failed to treat a significant portion of the water supplied to customers by Water District No. 1 for Cryptosporidium, especially in the northern part of this water district.
The Complaint filed by the United States seeks an order compelling Westchester to comply with the mandatory treatment requirements and ensure the delivery of properly treated drinking water to all households served by District No. 1. The complaint also seeks civil penalties for Defendant’s violations.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Environmental Protection Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Natalie N. Kuehler is in charge of the case.