The Town of Powder River is located 35 miles west of Casper on US HWY 20-26. Powder River
was platted as a townsite in 1920 but remains unincorporated with a present population of 43.
Shallow domestic-size wells serve residences, a bar-caf‚ (Tumble-Inn), a fuel-convenience store
(Supply Wagon), a small motel, post office, church, and school (5 students registered in fall 2001).
A shared well in town is under scrutiny by the United States Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), since it qualifies as a "public water system" supply source by EPA definition, and has been
found to be in violation of several sections of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). EPA has
primary enforcement authority of SDWA in the state of Wyoming.
The "Tumble Inn well" has not been able to comply with "Safe Drinking Water Act" regulations.
This well provides service to several users. On September 28, 2001 the EPA issued an
Administrative Order on Consent (AOC), Docket No, SDWA-08-2001-39. Water supplied by the
well exceeds the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for nitrates (=10 mg/L nitrate) and total
coliform (>1 positive sample/month total coliform). The average of samples taken in 1999 from the
well is 29.1 mg/L nitrate. Monitoring results for the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 1999 and the 2nd and 4th
quarters of 1997 exceeded the MCL for total coliform. Additional violations include failure to test
well water, failure to notify the public of violations, and failure to report violations to EPA.
The "Tumble-Inn well" reflects water quality problems found in all wells used at Powder River.
Individual domestic wells are not regulated for conformity with the "Safe Drinking Water Act."
Well owners in Powder River have long been aware of the dangers associated with drinking water
from town wells and have either hauled water or had purified water delivered. The AOC lists
interim measures (staying on imported drinking water and posting public notices) that must be
implemented and also requires implementation of long-term corrective measures.
The first step required by the Powder River AOC, for implementing long-term corrective measures,
is to submit an application to the WWDC for a Level I water supply master plan. Powder River
residents are then given the choice of pursuing the best alternative(s) identified in the WWDC study.
The WWDC study will concentrate on identifying contaminate sources, treatment alternatives for
exiting wells in Powder River, alternative ground water source supply (e.g. deep drilling), and
cost/funding scenarios for implementation. If a centralized water system were recommended,
Powder River residents would be required to form a public entity prior to construction. If the
recommended alternative consists of installation of individual treatment system, an entity may not be
RECOMMENDED LEGISLATIVE ACTION:
The WWDC recommends the project be incorporated in the New Development program at Level I
with an appropriation of $40,000.