On July 2, 2019, an EPA on-scene coordinator was deployed to support the Crow Water Authority following a report that there was a broken telescoping valve which caused partially treated effluent from the wastewater lagoon system to flood the UV disinfection building and overflow from the building onto the surrounding ground surface. The facility reported up to 3 million gallons of partially treated wastewater was released into the Little Bighorn River from June 24, 2019 to July 2, 2019. A mitigation effort took place that successfully repaired the valve, but additional operation and maintenance is required to return the system to full functionality. This fix isolated the effluent in the lagoons from July 2-5th,, 2019. Materials required to restore the entire plant have been ordered and cannot be delivered for 7-10 business days. In the meantime, EPA is working on locating a temporary disinfectant system to improve the quality of the water being discharged. Crow Agency is under order to bring the waste water facility into compliance, and the EPA is overseeing this process.
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Sewage is a not hazardous substance as defined by Section101(4) of CERCLA, but is a pollutant or contaminant as defined in Section 101(33) of CERCLA. Because of fecal coliform and other potential pathogens, it presents a threat to human health and the environment.
The Crow Agency’s lagoon and the water treat plants are owned and operated by Apsaalooke Water and Waste water Authority, a tribally-owned utility. Crow Agency is in the lack of funding position or has no resources to address this on-going threat presented by the site.