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Superfund Program Implements the Recovery Act

Arsenic Trioxide

Southeastern, North Dakota

Site Description
The site covers 26 townships in a sparsely populated area, predominately comprised of farmland with a few small towns including Lidgerwood, Wyndmere and Milnor.  There is widespread arsenic contamination in the shallow ground water aquifer due to use of arsenic-laced bait throughout North Dakota in the 1930s and early 1940s.  The bait was used to combat grasshopper infestations and was commonly applied to farm fields.  Unused materials were often buried or dumped in pits and low-lying areas.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, EPA and the State of North Dakota expanded and modified several local water treatment plants and distribution systems to provide area residents with drinking water meeting the Safe Drinking Water Act arsenic standard of 50 parts per billion (ppb).  The work was deemed fully implemented and operational, and the site was deleted from the National Priorities List in July 1996.  However, a 2003 five-year review showed that the remedy was no longer protective due to a lowering of the arsenic drinking water standard from 50 to 10 ppb; the review determined that additional actions were needed to return the site status to protective. 

Cleanup Activities to Date
In 2003, EPA and the State of North Dakota initiated an extensive rural user well sampling program.  Approximately 400 rural wells have been sampled, and the vast majority of these wells contain arsenic at levels over the drinking water standard.  Rural households with contaminated wells have been offered bottled water as an interim measure.  Construction of water distribution lines to expand the centralized water system is being carried out in phases.  Since 2005, the rural water system has been expanded to provide service to the communities of Hankinson and Wyndmere.  During the 2008 construction season an additional 60 homes were connected in the vicinity of Wyndmere and Lake Elsie. 

Recovery Act Project Activity
EPA will use the $9.6 million in Recovery Act funds to accelerate the project to bring safe drinking water to approximately 180 remaining rural households and to expand the water treatment and distribution facilities to handle the increased demand. EPA estimates that the project schedule will be accelerated by one year. Specific activities include: drilling two additional water supply wells, installing an additional water treatment filter, constructing an additional reservoir and pump house, modifying four existing reservoirs, and extending water distribution lines.

FY2011 highlights include:

  • Expanding the well field to ensure availability of an adequate quantity of raw water,
  • upgrading the water treatment facility with an additional filter vessel,
  • Constructing a new reservoir and pump station to maintain adequate flows to an area not previously served by rural water,
  • Upgrading 4 pump stations so that adequate service would be provided to new users and existing users would maintain the level of service they were experiencing prior to the expansion,
  • Constructing 2 new storage reservoirs to provide system capacity,
  • Installing an emergency generator to diminish the impact of service interruptions due to loss of power, and
  • Installing a geothermal system to lessen the system's dependency on non-renewable energy sources.

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