American Realty & Mortgage Co. has agreed to pay a $1,000 fine to resolve alleged drinking water violations.
“As all public drinking water systems must provide safe drinking water, systems that fail to monitor cannot ensure the safety and quality of our tap water,” said Alexis Strauss, water division director for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Pacific Southwest region. “Protecting public health is our top priority and the agency must ensure these systems supply their customers with safe, clean drinking water.”
Until August 2007, American Realty & Mortgage Co. supplied drinking water to approximately 50 residents of the Hacienda Acres subdivision in Pinal County, Ariz. The company failed to monitor its drinking water for lead, copper, and nitrates and failed to notify customers of its violations of safe drinking water requirements, a Safe Drinking Water Act mandate. In August 2007, American Realty & Mortgage Co. ceased operating the water system and it was turned over to a court-appointed interim operator.
This action follows a September 2005 order in which the agency required American Realty & Mortgage Co. to submit a comprehensive monitoring plan, monitor tap water for lead and copper and monitor for nitrates—a contaminant that previously exceeded Safe Drinking Water Act standards—quarterly. The order also required American Realty & Mortgage Co. to report sampling data to the EPA, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and provide its customers with an annual Consumer Confident Report.
The EPA has required small public water systems to monitor drinking water regularly for contaminants, some of which include lead, copper and nitrates. If contaminants are detected above the drinking water standards, systems are required to correct the problem through treatment. The EPA realizes the technical and financial challenges facing small water systems and strongly encourages small systems in Arizona to work with the Monitoring Assistance Program, which provides technical expertise and monitoring assistance to small water systems throughout the state.
The EPA has determined that lead, copper and nitrates can pose serious health threats at certain exposure levels. Low levels of lead can cause high blood pressure and kidney problems in adults; in children, lead can delay and inhibit physical and mental development. Exposure to nitrates can cause serious illness or death in infants, and can also cause “blue baby” syndrome.