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Latest summary of EPA actions to ensure safe drinking water in Colorado Indian country

Release Date: 11/22/2010
Contact Information: Lisa Kahn, 303-312-6896,

(Denver, Colo. – November 22, 2010) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 8 issued one emergency administrative order under the Safe Drinking Water Act in Indian country in Colorado from April 1 to September 30, 2010. EPA has direct authority to implement the Act in Indian country.

EPA issues an emergency order when there is a potential for imminent and substantial endangerment to public health, such as when contaminants have been identified in a public water system or when the public water system has experienced a disruption in the system that may endanger public health.

On August 13, 2010, EPA issued an emergency administrative order to the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and the Southern Ute Department of Natural Resources, after water samples taken at the Lake Capote Recreation Area water system were found to contain total coliform and E. coli bacteria, resulting in an acute maximum contaminant level violation. Coliforms are bacteria that are naturally present in the environment and are used as an indicator that other potentially harmful bacteria may be present. E. coli are bacteria whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waste. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe took the necessary precautions to protect the public during the event. The system has closed for the winter season, and the Tribe is planning additional steps to further protect users of the Lake Capote Recreation Area water system.

The Safe Drinking Water Act establishes specific regulations to assure the safety of public drinking water. EPA Region 8 directly implements the drinking water program throughout Indian country in the Region and in Wyoming and also oversees implementation of the Act in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah.