Westchester County Getting Sued for Alleged Non-Compliance with Federal Safe Drinking Water Act

The County is coming under litigious fire for “failing to comply” with the SDWA and failing to treat for a harmful water parasite

The summer heat has got all of us run down, hot, and thirsty. But if you live in Westchester’s Water District No. 1, which supplies water to residents of communities including Scarsdale, White Plains and Yonkers, you might want to put down that glass of tap water and instead opt for a bottle of Poland Spring.

The Manhattan U.S. Attorney and the Environmental Protection Agency announced a lawsuit today against Westchester County for failing to comply with the federal Safe Water Drinking Act rule that requires municipal drinking water suppliers to treat all unfiltered surface water for Cryptosporidium, a microscopic parasite.

Cryptosporidium can cause cryptosporidiosis, a potentially fatal gastrointestinal illness, which includes symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps. There is no known treatment for cryptosporidiosis, and, even in healthy adults, symptoms can persist for two or more weeks. In physically vulnerable individuals, it can be life-threatening.

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In a release from the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara explained, “The federal Safe Drinking Water Act is designed to protect public health by requiring supplier of water to take steps to prevent waterborne diseases from being transmitted to the public. Westchester’s prolonged failure to comply with treatment rules designed to prevent cryptosporidiosis is unacceptable.”

The suit seeks an order compelling Westchester to comply with treatment requirements and to ensure the delivery of properly-treated drinking water to all households served by District No. 1. The complaint also seeks civil penalties for the county’s violations.

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