News Feature | April 8, 2014

Small Water Authority Faces Big Fine

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


The water authority in a tiny Pennsylvania town owes the state a large fine. 

The Steelton Borough Water Authority, which serves a town of about 6,000 people, was cited for water treatment and reporting violations. They owe the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) a $55,200 fine, according to the Patriot-News. 

“DEP considers that fine to be reflective of the seriousness of the violations,” said Lisa Kasianowitz, spokeswoman for DEP, in the report. 

The state routinely fines treatment operators that are not in compliance with its rules, according to the report. Ordinarily, it helps them get back in bounds without levying gigantic fines.

Not this time.

“This is a different case than what we normally see because information was falsely reported to the department,” Kasianowitz said in the report. 

The violations were discovered in November during an inspection. DEP found “significant violations" of the Safe Drinking Water Act and its regulations, the report said. 

The violations, per a DEP release:

  • Steelton failed to provide adequate disinfection of Giardia lamblia, an organism commonly found in surface water that is capable of causing disease, for at least 24 days in 2013. Steelton also did not report this treatment failure to DEP.
  • Steelton failed to record filtered water turbidity levels, a measurement of the cloudiness of the water which is an indicator of water quality, for 108 separate days in 2013. Steelton’s former operator falsely reported to DEP during the months of August, September and October 2013 that filtered water turbidity had been recorded and the readings were all acceptable.
  • Steelton operated several modifications to the facilities without a Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) permit.

More fines are on the way should Steelton fail to pay in full. If that is the case, "Steelton will be required to pay a series of additional civil penalties. Steelton Water Authority will pay the $55,200 penalty in four quarterly payments, with the last payment due April 15, 2015. DEP has received the first payment of $13,800," ABC 27 reported

“Upon discovery of these violations, DEP notified Steelton Borough Water Authority who responded promptly and appropriately,” DEP South-central Regional Director Lynn Langer said in a Fox 43 report. “Since then, Steelton has been working with DEP on resolving the violations and has been carefully monitoring the situation to protect public health.”

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