The Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York filed a civil lawsuit against Westchester County Tuesday over the lack of ultraviolet treatment of drinking water for some towns in county Water District 1.
Lawyers with the U.S. Attorney’s office had been pushing the county to enter into a consent decree settling the violations and gave the county a Friday deadline, but the county refused and urged the government to rethink the lawsuit.
“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,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement. “Westchester’s prolonged failure to comply with treatment rules designed to prevent cryptosporidiosis is unacceptable.”
The lawsuit seeks compliance and fines of $37,500 for each day the county was in violation.
The ultraviolet treatment kills cryptosporidium, a parasite that can cause gastrointestinal illness. The district serves Scarsdale, White Plains, North Castle, Mount Vernon and Yonkers. Most of Yonkers and Mount Vernon already get treated water and the county has been working on a fix for the other municipalities that could be in place by the spring. But, even then the treatment will be two years past the deadline.