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Marion faces fines for continued water and sewer violations

The City of Marion is under scrutiny from both federal and state environmental regulators due to significant and ongoing violations concerning its water and sewer systems.

This week, the Times- Standard-Herald obtained documents revealing a proposed consent order from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and an Administrative Compliance Order from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), both aimed at addressing these critical issues.

The EPA’s Administrative Compliance Order, dated June 7, 2024, cites Marion for failing to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The order details the city’s failure to produce a Risk and Resilience Assessment (RRA) and an Emergency Response Plan (ERP), which are mandatory under federal law. Despite certifying completion of these documents to the EPA, a March 2024 inspection revealed that Marion had not prepared the required assessments. Consequently, the EPA has mandated that Marion develop and submit these plans within 30 days and schedule a meeting to present the evidence of their completion.

Simultaneously, ADEM has issued a proposed consent order dated May 9, 2024, outlining a series of required corrective actions for Marion’s water system. This order addresses multiple deficiencies identified in previous inspections, including the city’s failure to maintain operational records, properly calibrate equipment, and ensure the functionality of essential water treatment components. A September 2023 inspection noted 37 significant deficiencies and additional minor issues, ranging from inoperable equipment to inadequate emergency preparedness and maintenance protocols.

The proposed consent order stipulates that Marion must update its infrastructure report, hire additional certified operators, and establish a formal leak detection program, among other requirements. The city has been given until October 1, 2024, to meet these conditions and must submit a corrective action plan detailing how it will address the deficiencies by July 13, 2025. ADEM has also proposed a civil penalty of $19,000 for the violations, emphasizing the need for compliance to avoid further enforcement actions.

These actions highlight the critical state of Marion’s water and sewer systems and the urgent need for substantial improvements. The documents underscore the severity of the situation, detailing how the city’s aging infrastructure and inadequate maintenance have led to repeated failures to meet environmental and public health standards. The enforcement measures by the EPA and ADEM aim to bring the city’s water system into compliance and ensure the safety and reliability of its water supply for residents.