BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Federal environmental regulators say the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs violated an order to repair a public water supply system serving about 1,300 people on the Crow Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana.
Environmental Protection Agency officials said in a letter obtained by The Associated Press that the bureau has repeatedly missed deadlines to complete repairs following concerns last spring about potential water contamination.
The Crow Agency water system provides drinking water to about 1,300 people. In March, a main line on the system broke, prompting an advisory for users to boil water or use alternate supplies as a precaution.
The concern was that loss of pressure because of the line break could have allowed contaminated water to seep into the system through cracks and joints.
EPA spokeswoman Lisa McClain-Vanderpool says the Bureau of Indian Affairs has completed enough required work that there is no longer an imminent public health danger. That included increasing the dose of disinfectant at the water treatment plant.
Still unfinished are repairs to a control system that would allow plant operators to monitor water levels, according to the Jan. 14 violation letter.
Bureau spokeswoman Genevieve Giaccardo said the agency was working to address the remaining problems.
"Having safe drinking water is fundamental to the health and wellness of Indian Country and facilities should meet basic standards," she said in a statement. "We are actively working with the Tribe who administers federal funding at these facilities and the EPA to address these issues."
In 2018 the EPA Inspector General's office issued a report raising concerns about potential human health threats after evidence of contamination was found in water from the Little Bighorn River that supplies the Crow Agency system.
The river water is treated before entering the network of pipes that delivers water to Crow Agency residents.