Camp Pendleton Marin Corps Base. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.
LOS ANGELES, SEPT 29, 2017 --The United States Marine Corps (USMC) 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 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Camp Pendleton's South and North systems provide drinking water to approximately 55,000 customers.
Camp Pendleton, located in San Diego County, Calif., adds disinfectants to its groundwater systems as part of a treatment process that must be supervised and operated by qualified personnel. An EPA inspection in June 2017 found that Camp Pendleton lacked adequate supervision and qualified operators for treatment and distribution at its South and North public water systems.
"Public water systems must meet all state and federal requirements to provide safe drinking water to their customers," said Alexis Strauss, EPA's Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "Our priority is to ensure the base achieves compliance promptly, to serve those who live and work at Camp Pendleton."
EPA's investigation found several significant deficiencies at both systems, including the presence of small animal remains in three reservoirs. In addition, EPA found that the advanced water treatment plant had been periodically shut down and that operators were not completing required equipment testing. Finally, inspectors found that operators did not regularly inspect, maintain, and document monitoring efforts, which resulted in foundational cracks and inadequate seals.
Shortly after the EPA inspection, USMC removed the animal remains and cleaned, refilled, and tested the reservoirs for total coliform and chlorine. USMC will conduct additional testing to ensure the water in the reservoirs is safe to drink.
Under EPA's order, USMC must also issue a public notice informing customers of the ongoing compliance issues. EPA is requiring the USMC to shut down, inspect, clean and sample all other Camp Pendleton reservoirs for total coliform within 180 days. Should any of the samples test positive, USMC must issue a public notice and provide affected customers the choice to receive an alternative source of drinking water. These reservoirs may not be returned to service until approved by EPA. For more information on the Safe Drinking Water Act, visit www.epa.gov/sdwa.