Marine Corps to work with EPA to improve water supply conditions

SAN DIEGO – The Marine Corps has agreed to bring two public water systems at Camp Pendleton into compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act as part of a consent order with the Environmental Protection Agency, the government agency announced Sept. 28.

An EPA inspection three months ago found that the northern San Diego County military station, which provides drinking water to about 55,000 customers, lacked adequate supervision and qualified operators for treatment and distribution at its public water systems.

“Our priority is to ensure the base achieves compliance promptly, to serve those who live and work at Camp Pendleton,” said Alexis Strauss, acting Pacific Southwest regional administrator for the EPA.

The agency’s investigation found several significant deficiencies at the base’s northern and southern water systems, including the presence of remains of small animals in three reservoirs.

Additionally, the EPA discovered that Camp Pendleton’s advanced water-treatment plant had been periodically shut down, that its operators were not completing required equipment testing and that they did not regularly inspect, maintain and document monitoring efforts, resulting in foundational cracks and inadequate seals.

Shortly after receiving the results of the June inspection, the Marine Corps removed the animal remains and cleaned, refilled and tested the reservoirs for total coliform and chlorine.

USMC officials, who add disinfectants to their groundwater systems as part of their treatment processes, will conduct additional testing to ensure the water in the reservoirs is safe to drink, according to the EPA.

The Marine Corps also must inform customers of the ongoing compliance issues and shut down, inspect, clean and sample all other Camp Pendleton reservoirs for total coliform within 180 days.

Should any of the samples test positive, the USMC must issue a public notice and provide affected customers the choice of receiving an alternative source of drinking water until the reservoirs are brought into compliance, according to the EPA.

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