Eagle River Water & Sanitation District: An explanation of our recent state citation
As a local government formed to operate the public water and wastewater systems, Eagle River Water & Sanitation District’s purpose is to provide safe drinking water to our customers and to return clean water back to local streams via one of our wastewater treatment facilities. It sounds simple, but it is very complex.
In the world of water, regulations constantly change. This is a good thing. Eagle River Water & Sanitation District always strives to make safer and cleaner water. Thankfully, we have many partners in this mission, with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and our customers being our two primary partners.
CDPHE updates regulations to ensure that the public health and environment is protected. In 2016, CDPHE updated Regulation 11, Colorado’s Primary Drinking Water Regulation, to better protect drinking water from the risk of potential contamination from uncontrolled cross connections. When public drinking water piping connects to potential sources of contamination on customers’ properties, such as fire suppression systems, boilers, or irrigation systems, a “cross-connection” is created. If this cross-connection is not properly protected, water from the public supply can become contaminated.
Plumbing codes require cross-connection prevention devices to be installed in the customer’s plumbing system where the potential for a cross connection exists. However, this risk must be monitored; the devices need to be regularly surveyed, tested, and repaired. Because the devices are installed on the customer’s plumbing, our customers have a role in meeting the CDPHE regulations.
This is where we come in. It is Eagle River’s responsibility to ensure that all customer devices in the public water system are functioning normally to protect drinking water quality. The new Regulation 11 changes provided a time frame for Eagle River to ramp up our surveying and testing of devices in our service area. We did not meet the requirements within that time frame.
CDPHE notified us of this error and issued a citation for violating the regulation during a routine drinking water inspection. We included details about the violation in customers’ recent monthly billing statements. We are making a concerted effort to come back into compliance by updating our rules and regulations, reaching out to customers with known deficiencies in their devices, and identifying additional resources to complete the increased testing and surveying requirement by 2020.
We will be contacting many of our customers in 2019 and 2020 to physically survey the plumbing systems on their properties to determine if they are regulated. Most regulated customers are either: commercial businesses, multi-family housing units, or homes greater than 7,500 square feet.
For those customers who are regulated, they will be required to have functional cross-connection control devices in place and to provide documentation of a passing test by a certified plumber, annually. The cost of the devices and testing are borne by the customers whose systems pose a risk to the public water supply.
If you receive a letter or call from us indicating that you need to make an appointment with our technicians or are required to have annual testing of a known cross-connection control device, I urge you to take the requested action without delay.
To date, customers have responded positively to our program and we continue to reach out and work directly and proactively with them. Together, Eagle River Water & Sanitation District and its customers can partner in ensuring that everyone who drinks our water can be confident that it is safe.
Linn Brooks is the general manager of Eagle River Water & Sanitation District. Linn is responsible for water service in the towns of Vail and Avon, and the unincorporated areas of Arrowhead, Bachelor Gulch, Beaver Creek, Berry Creek, Cordillera, EagleVail and Edwards, and wastewater service in the same areas, plus Minturn.