U.S. EPA settles with Hopi Tribe for Safe Drinking Water Act violations

TUBA CITY, AZ (11/25/2019) – The Hopi Tribe has agreed to pay a $3,800 penalty for failing to meet the terms of a 2016 agreement to reduce arsenic levels in drinking water at the Hopi Cultural Center. The Cultural Center supplies drinking water for approximately 25 people within the Hopi Reservation, 60 miles east of Tuba City.

The 2016 agreement between the Hopi Tribe and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) outlined mitigation measures to reduce naturally occuring arsenic in drinking water at the Cultural Center. The Hopi Tribe failed to meet the agreement’s deadline to implement a necessary treatment system to meet the federal Safe Drinking Water Act’s (SDWA) arsenic standards of 10 micrograms per liter. In quarterly tests throughout 2018, the system failed to meet SDWA standards and to date is running an annual average of 13 micrograms of arsenic per liter.

“Safe drinking water is the cornerstone of protecting public health,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “The EPA will continue working with the Hopi Tribe, the affected Hopi Villages, and the Indian Health Service to address the high levels of arsenic in drinking water.”

In addition to paying the penalty, the Hopi Tribe has informed EPA of its plans to complete an arsenic treatment system at the Cultural Center that was part of the 2016 settlement agreement. The Hopi Tribe has allocated funding and selected contractors to complete the work with a goal of finishing the project by early 2020. EPA’s ongoing efforts with the Hopi Tribe and the Indian Health Service also includes a more comprehensive fix to address arsenic concerns on the Hopi Reservation, the Hopi Arsenic Mitigation Project (HAMP). The HAMP is a regional pipeline project intended to bring compliant source water to affected Hopi Villages and the Hopi Cultural Center by the end of 2023.

Arsenic, a naturally occurring mineral found throughout the United States, can be found in groundwater, and is a known carcinogen. Drinking high levels of arsenic over many years can increase the chance of lung, bladder and skin cancers, as well as heart disease, diabetes, and neurological damage. Arsenic inhibits the body’s ability to fight off cancer and other diseases.

Media Contact: Denise Adamic, adamic.denise@epa.gov, 415-972-3061

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