DHEC fines water co. for late water boil

The Jenkinsville Water Company has been hit with a $14,000 fine from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) for failure to provide adequate public notice after learning from an independent laboratory in July that a water sample collected during a routine monthly test contained E. coli bacteria, and for failing to collect a ground water sample within 24 hours of learning of the contamination.

According to DHEC’s Consent Order 12-064-DW, the civil penalty is to be paid in four installments of $3,500 each, beginning Sept. 20, with subsequent payments due Dec. 20, March 20, 2013 and June 20, 2013. The order also notes that, should the Jenkinsville Water Company fail to submit an installment, the entire amount becomes immediately due and will include an additional $4,000 in penalties.

Gregrey Ginyard, president of the Jenkinsville Water Company Board of Trustees, signed off on the agreement Aug. 15. Ginyard refused to answer questions about the penalty when reached by phone last week, particularly how the company expected to pay the installments.

The water company issued the boil advisory July 9 – four days after learning that lab tests revealed the presence of E. coli bacteria in samples taken from a home in the Feasterville area of Fairfield County. The advisory was lifted several days later after follow-up tests found the sample actually came from a private well outside a home, Ginyard said in July, which was not part of the company’s water system. Ginyard stressed that none of his customers were ever in any danger, but the reaction time of the company in the face of the contaminated sample caused them to run afoul of DHEC.

According to DHEC, the original samples were collected July 3 and submitted to Data Resources, a private laboratory, the same day. After finding E. coli present in one of the samples, Data Resources emailed those test results to the Jenkinsville Water Company July 5 at 2:20 p.m.

A public water system, DHEC said last month, is responsible for issuing public notice within 24 hours after it learns of a violation, which means the Jenkinsville Water Company should have sounded the boil water alarms by July 6. Furthermore, DHEC said, a public water system should notify DHEC by the end of the day when the system is notified of an E. coli positive test result, unless the system is notified after the department is closed, then they notify the department the next business day.

“A Jenkinsville water system representative sent an email to DHEC on Friday July 6 at 3:09 p.m.,” DHEC said, more than 24 hours after the water company learned of the lab results. “The person receiving the email was not in the office at that time, but this does not relieve the (Jenkinsville Water Company) of the responsibility for making public notice. Monday morning (July 9) Jenkinsville called the Department. At that time they were told to issue a Boil Water Notice and the notice was issued.”

According to the Consent Order, DHEC issued a Notice of Violation to the water company on July 12 stating that the water company had “exceeded the maximum contaminant level for total coliform, which resulted in an acute violation of the Total Coliform Rule during the July 2012 monitoring period.” A second Notice of Violation was issued on July 26 for “failure to collect, within 24 hours of notification of a total coliform positive sample, at least one ground water source sample from each ground water source in use at the time the total coliform positive sample was collected.” The second Notice of Violation also informed the water company that it must issue public notice of the violation within the next year and submit a copy of the public notice to DHEC.

On July 27, a third Notice of Violation was issued to the company for “failure to notify (DHEC) by the end of the day when the (water company) is notified of an E. coli positive test result; and for failure to provide public notice no later than 24 hours after the system learned of the violation.” The notice also informed the water company that it must include these violations in its Consumer Confidence Report, which must be delivered to Jenkinsville Water Company customers by July 1, 2013.

In addition to the fine, the Jenkinsville Water Company must, according to the Consent Order, “submit to DHEC a standard operating procedure that will be followed by the representatives of the (company) to ensure that all monitoring requirements are complied with per State Primary Drinking Water Regulations 61-58.”