Adeq Public Emergency Notification Requirements

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Editor:

As a resident of Pine, I feel appalled that Title 18, Arizona Administrative Code Chapter 4 Subpart Q — Public Notification of Drinking Water Violations § 141.201 general public notification requirements would allow for people drinking “contaminated” (or thought to be contaminated on June 19, 2012) with only public notification of written postings in the U.S. Post Office and on the Water Company building in Pine, neither of these methods comes anywhere near effective for notifying people in the rural communities of Pine and Strawberry.

The post office is virtually vacant in the late afternoon and if the people were unaware of the water situation, why would they even go looking for notices anywhere? This regulation is so vague as many government regulations — open to interpretation and loopholes to protect the governing agencies and not protecting the people.

“In regards to the recent water outage: The water company’s (PSWID) new operator was in constant contact with the department during the outage. The method of public notice that was implemented was within the boundaries required by the department (ADEQ). The Pine/Strawberry system notified ADEQ about the incident only after issuing a public notice to warn the customers. ADEQ has recommended that the system review the emergency plan subsequent to the latest emergency and recommended emergency procedure training for the staff. Being unfamiliar with the habits of the system’s customers, it is not practical for ADEQ to direct the public notice method. Perhaps the customers could suggest better notification processes for the future.” — Deborah Schadewald-Kohler, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality

(Quote from the statute) “Public water systems must provide the notice within 24 hours in a form and manner reasonably calculated to reach all persons served. The form and manner used by the public water system are to fit the specific situation, but must be designed to reach residential, transient, and non-transient users of the water system. In order to reach all persons served, water systems are to use, at a minimum, one or more of the following forms of delivery: (1) Appropriate broadcast media (such as radio and television); (2) Posting of the notice in conspicuous locations throughout the area served by the water system; (3) Hand delivery of the notice to persons served by the water system; or (4) Another delivery method approved in writing by the primary agency.”

In my opinion, none of the four options for emergency notification were fulfilled, but again it is my opinion. This means that the towns of Pine and Strawberry can drink contaminated water for up to 24 hours without legally being notified. Feel safe now? In this “instant information age” it’s difficult to believe public notification is even an issue. Maybe we need to bring back the Pony Express! Hey, we could save on water hauling, too.

Deb Schwalm

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