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EPA proposes Clean Water Act settlement on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana

Dec 20, 2022

Proposed penalty addresses violations at the Browning Lagoon Wastewater Treatment Facility and Two Medicine Water Treatment Plant

Helena, Mont. – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed Clean Water Act (CWA) settlement with the tribal utility Two Medicine Water Company (Company) in which the Company will pay a $40,000 penalty for unpermitted discharges and past violations of water discharge permits at the Browning Lagoon Wastewater Treatment Facility and Two Medicine Water Treatment Plant on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana.  

“This proposed settlement follows EPA’s significant compliance assistance efforts to address violations and protect public health and the environment,” said EPA Region 8 Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division Director Suzanne Bohan. “EPA is committed to ensuring compliance with Clean Water Act requirements that safeguard our rivers, lakes and streams and protect tribal communities.”

EPA and the Company reached the proposed penalty agreement to address the Company’s past violations at its two treatment facilities. These violations included unpermitted discharges of pollutants to surface waters, including a tributary of Willow Creek and a tributary of Two Medicine River, and the failure to complete required monitoring, reporting, and facility operations and maintenance activities. The Company has taken productive steps to remedy past violations, including obtaining discharge permits for both facilities and submitting documentation of required weekly inspections and monitoring conducted by the Company.

The penalty amount was determined using factors in the Clean Water Act for the extent and severity of violations, among others, and it accounts for the Company’s financial ability to pay.

The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants into waters of the U.S. without a permit. These permits establish specific limits for pollutants and other requirements, such as monitoring and reporting, to ensure that discharges do not impact water quality, aquatic life, or human health.

EPA is taking public comments on this proposed settlement and will continue to evaluate and ensure future compliance at these facilities. This proposed agreement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final approval by the EPA’s Regional Judicial Officer. The public comment period runs from December 20, 2022 through January 19, 2023.  Read the public notice and learn how to provide comments.  

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