Water Disasters – Harvard Apartment Complex Settles Allegations of Safe Drinking Water Violations
TEST YOUR WATER.
BOSTON, MA: 1.23.2018 — The owner of a Harvard apartment complex for elderly, disabled, and low-income tenants has agreed to pay up to $100,000 to settle allegations that it failed to provide safe drinking water to residents and failed to follow mandated emergency response procedures to address the problem, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
The consent judgment, entered Monday in Suffolk Superior Court, settles a lawsuit filed by the AG’s Office against Foxglove Housing Associates Limited Partnership alleging the defendant violated Massachusetts drinking water laws and regulations by failing to operate and maintain its public water system in a manner that ensured the delivery of safe drinking water to the residents of the Foxglove Apartments, and by failing to notify the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) of two water emergencies, which resulted in the loss of water to residents.
“Foxglove’s failure to abide by our state’s laws and regulations left residents without access to water for days,” said AG Healey. “We are committed to ensuring that public water suppliers have systems in place to provide safe drinking water.”
“All public water suppliers are responsible for maintaining their systems to ensure an uninterrupted supply of fit and pure water,” said Martin Suuberg, MassDEP Commissioner. “Given the vulnerable population served by this supplier, it is critically important to have in place, and then follow, an emergency plan should the on-site water supply ever be interrupted.”
The complaint alleges that Foxglove failed to implement its Emergency Response Plan and failed to submit an Emergency Response Report to the MassDEP. Foxglove also allegedly failed to address deficiencies identified by MassDEP in the operation of their public water system. The AG’s Office further alleges in its complaint that, due to Foxglove’s failure to comply with the regulations, residents in the apartment lost reliable water service for three days in May 2016 after an electrical malfunction in the system’s booster pump and again three days in June 2016 when a filter in the system clogged.
In addition to the civil penalty, the consent judgment requires Foxglove to make repairs and upgrades to its public water system to ensure that its residents have an uninterrupted supply of safe drinking water, including additional water storage on site and the connections needed for bulk storage trucks to deliver water to Foxglove Apartments. Foxglove has begun work on its public water system to make the upgrades.
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Jessica Shaffer and Deputy Division Chief Betsy Harper of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, with assistance from Rebecca Tobin, Margo Webber, Marielle Stone, and Andrea Lemerise of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office.