The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the Navy to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act at its naval auxiliary landing field on San Clemente Island, located off the coast of San Diego, Calif. The order requires the Navy to reduce levels of total trihalomethanes, byproducts of the water disinfection process, in the drinking water system that serves approximately 700 people on the island.
“Chemical byproducts in treated drinking water must meet federal guidelines to protect public health,” said Alexis Strauss, Water Division director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “The EPA will ensure this system returns promptly to compliance.”
The EPA is ordering the Navy to provide a written compliance plan describing how it will meet federal water regulations by June 30. By Dec. 31, 2008, the Navy must reduce its total trihalomethane levels to below federal standards. Failure to comply with the EPA order could result in penalties for as much as $32,500 per day per violation.
Byproducts such as trihalomethanes form when disinfectants used in water treatment plants, such as chlorine, react with natural chemical compounds from organic matter like decaying vegetation in source waters. After years of consumption, trihalomethanes may cause liver, kidney or central nervous system problems and may increase the risk of cancer.
Between July 2005 and April 2006, the drinking water at the naval auxiliary landing field averaged 0.099 milligrams per liter of total trihalomethanes, violating federal drinking water standards of 0.080 milligrams per liter.
The EPA established new disinfection byproduct regulations in 1998 to protect public health from potentially harmful byproduct chemicals that form when chlorine reacts with natural organic compounds during the treatment process.