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Bannock County asked to sign water contamination consent order

The city of Pocatello is assuring homeowners their water is safe.

The city was notified Wednesday morning that the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality had asked Bannock County to sign a consent order. The order would address ongoing groundwater contamination at the Fort Hall Mine Landfill.

DEQ has been monitoring the Bannock County Landfill since pollutants were discovered leaking from the landfill in 1991. The leaks resulted in the closure of several Pocatello municipal and private drinking water wells.

In cooperation with the city, affected people were given opportunity to connect to the city’s water supply. Bannock County constructed a ground water treatment system in 2002.

A 2014 DEQ review of the first 12 years of treatment system operation and found the system has been largely ineffective at removing contaminants from the ground water.

Contamination levels in five off-site domestic and irrigation wells were sampled in the spring of 2015. They were found to be largely unchanged in the last decade. DEQ said contamination levels have remained below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum contaminant level, despite increasing concentrations at the landfill monitoring wells.

DEQ has determined that additional characterization of the nature and extent of the pollution was required.

The new consent order calls for the county to sample additional wells in the area to determine the extent of existing contamination. The county will also gather new data at the landfill to better understand the extent and movement of the contaminants.

That information will be used to develop a remediation plan that includes new cleanup goals and recommends remediation technology to achieve those goals.

The county must evaluate the remediation action annually to determine whether cleanup is progressing as needed.

The department has asked Bannock County to sign the consent order by November 15.

Until then, DEQ will work with the county to refine remediation plans.

The city of Pocatello is assuring residents that drinking water is safe. The water department annually conducts over 1,500 tests of drinking water for more than 100 compounds. The tests show contaminant concentrations do not exceed state or federal drinking water standards.

“The health and safety of the residents of Pocatello are our top priorities,” said Michael R. Jaglowski, PE, Public Works Director. “We will continue to monitor the situation and take the appropriate actions if concentrations rise to action levels.”

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