A West Bank Bible college has been working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to come back into good standing after violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The federal regulatory agency put Jackson Hole Bible College President Don Landis on notice last summer, faulting him for failing to send required E. coli monitoring reports, a noncompliant well cap and for failing to notify the public of those violations. In late October the agency included the college in a news release detailing regulatory actions taken to enforce drinking water quality across Wyoming and Indian Country within EPA’s Region 8.

“Public drinking water systems must meet federal Safe Drinking Water Act requirements that keep drinking water safe,” EPA Regional Administrator Greg Sopkin said in the release. “Through these nine orders, EPA is helping ensure that public water systems protect the health of their users.”

Jackson Hole Bible College, which is dubbed Rocky Mountain Lodge in the release and enforcement documents, was told that it could be assessed civil penalties of up to $58,328 a day for the violation. Fines, however, were not assessed because Landis and the school responded to agency demands. Missing E. coli data, dated to April of 2019, was sent the day that EPA sent its notice, agency employees said.

Landis told the News&Guide in an interview that there was never a problem to begin with other than a date mix-up.

“We pushed in evidence to show that it was taken on time, delivered on time, and there was nothing wrong with the sample,” Landis said.

The other outstanding issue relates to a well cap that an EPA inspector found in disrepair and told the college to repair or replace. Landis initially said he used a silicone-base sealant that had been recommended by the inspector.

“Then they came back and said, ‘We don’t accept that silicone seal anymore,’” Landis said.

Jackson Hole Bible College was asked to purchase and install an all-new well cap. Landis said the EPA could not tell him which type of cap to install and that a personal bout of COVID-19 contributed to a slow response in getting the cap replaced. But in late October a local company completed the job, he said, and the well and its new cap now live in an insulated building.

The EPA still considers its enforcement order open because the agency had not yet received necessary documentation verifying the new infrastructure, an agency email said. Landis said he believes that missing documentation includes photographs of the well cap and a bill, which he intends to send soon.

“This thing is still going on,” Landis said. “I don’t know if this is going to make them happy. I may have wasted my money.”

Other Wyoming public water systems that the EPA took enforcement actions on in the third quarter of 2020 include the Akal Travel Center, the town of Chugwater, Potlatch Trailer Court, town of Cokeville, Stone Creek Homeowners Association, South Pass Historic Site and the Spencer Homesite Water Association.

The Safe Drinking Water Act is the principal U.S. federal law that ensures tap water is safe for the public. Drinking water systems are governed by the act if they have at least 15 service connections, or serve an average of 25 people for 60 days a year.

Jackson Hole Bible College probably houses 40 people on average, Landis said.

Contact Mike Koshmrl at 732-7067 or env@jhnewsandguide.com.

Mike has reported on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem's wildlife, wildlands and the agencies that manage them since 2012. A native Minnesotan, he arrived in the West to study environmental journalism at the University of Colorado.

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