Browning, Montana on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation (Photo by Tony Bynum | Kaiser Health News).
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday announced a proposed settlement with a tribal water company on the Blackfeet Reservation that has agreed to pay $40,000 to settle violations of the Clean Water Act at two treatment facilities.
Two Medicine Water Company agreed to the proposed settlement after it was found to have failed to follow permit requirements and discharged pollutants into a tributary of Willow Creek and a tributary of the Two Medicine River, according to the EPA.
The alleged violations happened at the Browning Facility from June to November of this year, and at the Two Medicine Water Treatment Plant from January 2018 to December 2020.
At the Browning Facility on Young Brother Road from June 30 through Nov. 6, the EPA said the company failed to submit monthly discharge reports, perform weekly inspections, monitor pollutants and maintain lagoon dikes. It also discharged pollutants without a permit, according to the EPA.
At the Two Medicine Water Treatment Plant on Highway 49 from Jan. 1, 2018, through Dec. 8, 2020, the company also discharged pollutants without a permit, failed to self-monitor and submit required discharge reports, and failed to perform weekly inspections, the agency said.
The EPA said the company’s financials showed it was “unable to pay a larger penalty” than the $40,000.
Two Medicine Water Company has since obtained discharge permits for both facilities and has been submitting the required weekly inspection and monitoring reports to the EPA and has agreed to pay the penalty, the EPA said.
In a post on Facebook, the company said chlorine levels from a water cleaning system exceeded maximum levels in two settling ponds that feed into the Two Medicine River and claimed the tribe inherited an “out of compliance Browning lagoon system when they took over operations in 2013.”
“TMWC is looking to installing some type of trickling system to remedy this,” the company said in the post. “… The Blackfeet tribe under the guidance from the Blackfeet Water Resources Department is currently working with IHS to remedy these deficiencies.” The post also said the company is keeping the EPA updated on its progress.
A public comment period on the proposed settlement opened Wednesday. People wishing to comment on the proposal can submit those through Jan. 19 by clicking here and following the guidance.
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