By Associated Press - Wednesday, June 11, 2014

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - Major violations of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Act more than tripled in North Dakota between 2008 and 2013.

There were 325 major violations recorded in the state’s public water systems in 2013, compared with 236 the year before, according to a new report from the state Health Department. Just 98 were registered in 2008.

The rise in the number of violations is likely the result of new public water systems in the state and the high turnover rates among those responsible for water systems, said LeeAnn Tillotson, an environmental scientist with the Health Department.

Between 2008 and 2013, the number of public water systems in the state grew from 514 to 654.

A public water system is a system that services at least 25 people for at least 60 days a year. Water systems installed at crew camps common in the state’s oil patch or in mobile home parks can be considered public water systems.

Tillotson said many of the new water systems in the state have been in the oil patch, which has seen rapid population growth over the past half-decade as a result of an oil boom. She added that many of the violations reported were monitoring and reporting violations - such as water samples not submitted on time, and problems with paperwork.

Better communication with those in charge of water systems - and additional points of contact in case of turnover - could help reduce the number of infractions in the future, Tillotson said.

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