U.S. EPA issues emergency order to out-of-compliance Lee Bar Ranch mobile home park drinking water system in Pala, California
PALA, Calif. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered the Lee Bar Ranch mobile home park on the Pala Band of Mission Indians Reservation to comply with federal drinking water requirements and to identify and correct problems at its sewer and drinking water systems that present a danger to the residents of the park. The sewer and water systems serve approximately 90 residents and are privately owned. A boil water notice has been issued to all customers.
During several inspections between January and May 2020, the Pala Environmental Department (PED) learned that untreated human sewage was regularly discharged onto the soil throughout the property as a result of septic system failures. Additionally, PED observed a broken drinking water line, which may lead to a loss of pressure and a reversal in the water flow. Both the potential exposure of an underground source of drinking water to human waste and reversal in the water flow may lead to fecal contamination of the drinking water or contamination by other disease-causing organisms. Lastly, the drinking water system on Lee Bar Ranch was not registered with the EPA and has failed to comply with all applicable monitoring and reporting regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
“Through this order, EPA is ensuring that the water system is properly operated to provide the mobile home park residence safe drinking water.” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. “We will be actively engaged with the system, community and Pala Band of Mission Indians until the system returns to compliance.”
Under the terms of the agency’s administrative order, the owners of the water system are required to:
- Issue a boil water notice to all customers.
- Take drinking water samples from different points in the drinking water system for the presence of total coliform bacteria.
- If any of the water samples have a positive E. coli result, owners must provide at least one gallon of water per person per day for every individual served by the system.
- Conduct a technical review of the drinking water and wastewater infrastructures to identify problems, and draft and follow a plan to correct those problems.
- Provide verification that the system has a qualified water operator.
- Properly monitor the system’s drinking water and report findings to the EPA.
EPA will continue to oversee the system operator’s efforts to comply with Safe Drinking Water Act requirements and may levy civil penalties if it fails to meet the compliance provisions in the administrative order.
The Pala Band of Mission Indians has no direct control or ownership of the water system. EPA has worked closely with the Pala Band of Mission Indians and has consulted their leadership about the violations.