[Federal Register Volume 63, Number 135 (Wednesday, July 15, 1998)]
[Notices]
[Pages 38167-38169]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 98-18865]


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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

[FRL-6123-9]

Sole Source Aquifer Determination for the Cloverly Aquifer (Dakota 
and Lakota Sands)


Elk Mountain, Wyoming

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Notice of final determination.

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SUMMARY: Pursuant to section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act, 
the Regional Administrator in Region VIII of the U.S. Environmental 
Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that the Cloverly Aquifer, 
Dakota and Lakota Sands at Elk Mountain, Wyoming and the immediately 
adjacent recharge area is the sole or principal source of drinking 
water for a region. The region is located in south central Wyoming 
extending (in an irregular shape) from the Town of Elk Mountain 3 miles 
east, 7 miles west along the Interstate 80 corridor and 18 miles to the 
south. The entire area is within Carbon County, Wyoming. No viable 
alternative sources of drinking water with sufficient supply exist. If 
this aquifer is contaminated a significant hazard to public health 
could occur.
    The boundaries of the designated area have been reviewed and 
approved by EPA. As a result of this action, Federal

[[Page 38168]]

financially assisted projects constructed in the approximately 174 
square mile area mentioned above will be subject to EPA review to 
ensure that these projects are designed and constructed in a manner 
which does not create a significant hazard to public health. For the 
purposes of this designation the Aquifer Service Area and the Project 
Review Area are the same as the Designated Area.

EFFECTIVE DATE: This determination shall be promulgated for purposes of 
judicial review at 1:00 p.m. Mountain Daylight time on July 15, 1998.

ADDRESSEES: The data upon which these findings are based and a map of 
the designated area are available to the public and may be inspected 
during normal business hours at the U.S. Environmental Protection 
Agency, Region VIII, 999 18th Street, Suite 500, Denver, CO 80202-2405.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: William J. Monheiser, Sole Source 
Aquifer Coordinator, Ground Water Program, 8P2-W-GW, U.S. EPA Region 
VIII, 999 18th Street, Suite 500, Denver, Colorado 80202-2405, Phone: 
(303) 312-6271, e-mail: [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Notification is hereby given that, pursuant 
to section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act, 42 U.S.C. 300f, 
300h-3(e), Pub. L. 93-523 as amended, the Regional Administrator of the 
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined that the Cloverly 
Aquifer is the sole or principal source of drinking water for the Elk 
Mountain area of south central Wyoming described above. Pursuant to 
section 1424(e), Federal financially assisted projects constructed 
anywhere in the Elk Mountain area described above will be subject to 
EPA review.

I. Background

    Section 1424 ( e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act states

    If the Administrator determines, on his own initiative or upon 
petition, that an area has an aquifer which is the sole or principal 
drinking water source for the area and which, if contaminated, would 
create a significant hazard to public health, he shall publish 
notice of that determination in the Federal Register. After the 
publication of any such notice, no commitment for Federal financial 
assistance (through a grant, contract, loan guarantee, or otherwise) 
may be entered into for any project which the Administrator 
determines may contaminate such aquifer through a recharge zone so 
as to create a significant hazard to public health, but a commitment 
for Federal financial assistance may, if authorized under another 
provision of the law, be entered into to plan or design the project 
to assure that it will not so contaminate the aquifer.

    Effective March 9, 1987, authority to make a Sole Source Aquifer 
Designation Determination was delegated to the U.S. EPA Regional 
Administrators.
    On August 18, 1997, a petition was received from the Town of Elk 
Mountain, P.O. Box 17, Elk Mountain, Wyoming, 82324, requesting EPA to 
designate the ground water resources of the Cloverly Aquifer, Dakota 
and Lakota Sands in the Elk Mountain area as a Sole Source Aquifer. In 
response to this petition, EPA published a notice of a public meeting 
held in the Town of Elk Mountain, Wyoming on February 17, 1998. This 
document was published in the Saratoga Sun and the Rawlins Daily Times. 
EPA also sent copies of the notice with descriptive information to all 
parties in the Elk Mountain area. This document announced receipt of 
the petition and requested public comment in writing or oral comments 
at the public meeting and for a 30-day comment period. Comments 
received by telephone were also accepted. The public comment period 
extended from February 2, 1998 to March 4, 1998.
    Subsequently, EPA determined that the petition is both 
administratively and technically complete and adequate.

II. Basis for Determination

    Among the factors considered by the Regional Administrator in 
connection with the designation of a Sole Source Aquifer under section 
1424(e) are: (1) Whether the aquifer is the area's sole or principal 
source of drinking water and (2) whether contamination of the aquifer 
would create a significant hazard to public health.
    On the basis of information available to this Agency, the Regional 
Administrator has made the following findings, which are the basis for 
the determination noted above:
    1. The Cloverly Aquifer (Dakota and Lakota sands) serves as the 
``sole source'' of drinking water for approximately 186 permanent 
residents within the Town of Elk Mountain. There is no existing 
alternative drinking water source or combination of sources which could 
provide fifty percent or more of the drinking water to the designated 
area, nor is there any projected future alternative source capable of 
supplying the area's drinking water needs at an economical cost.
    2. Although the Cloverly Formation underlies much of the State of 
Wyoming, in the Elk Mountain area the aquifer is of high quality, able 
to be used as a drinking water source with minimal treatment. This 
constitutes a resource unique to this area and if contaminated would 
create a significant hazard to public health. Potential sources of 
contamination include: (1) Petroleum, mineral exploration, and 
geophysical drilling, (2) direct impacts to the exposed outcrop of the 
Cloverly Formation from silvaculture and agriculture, (3) accidental 
spills along roadways, and (4) abandoned but unplugged petroleum, 
mineral and geophysical wells.

III. Description of the Petitioned Aquifer

    The Town of Elk Mountain is located in the Pass Creek Basin of 
south central Wyoming along the northern flank of the Medicine Bow 
Mountains. Typically Pass Creek Basin strata are folded and faulted 
inward into a series of north plunging, asymmetrical anticlines less 
than 1 mile in width.
    The Cloverly Aquifer consists of lower Cretaceous age sediments 
with a medium to fine grained clean Dakota sandstone and the clean 
conglomeritic Lakota Sandstone separated by Fuson Shale. The aquifer is 
confined and averages about 90 feet thick. Since the sediments have 
been extensively folded and faulted the target water producing zones 
are structurally controlled and vary from 2,380 to 2,780 feet below 
ground surface. Transmissivities are about 1100 gal/day/ft with an 
estimated porosity of .18, and a hydraulic gradient of .032 to the 
northwest along the axis of the regional anticlines.

IV. Information Utilized in Determination

    The information utilized in this determination includes the 
petition from the Town of Elk Mountain, research of available 
literature, the results of investigative efforts conducted to date on 
the ground-water resources of the area, and written and verbal comments 
submitted by the public. These data are available to the public and may 
be inspected during normal business hours at EPA Region VIII, 999 18th 
Street, Denver, Colorado.

V. Project Review

    EPA Region VIII will work with the Federal agencies that may in the 
future provide financial assistance to projects in the designated area. 
Interagency procedures will be developed in which EPA will be notified 
of proposed commitments by Federal agencies for projects which could 
contaminate the aquifer. EPA will evaluate such projects and, where 
necessary, conduct an in-depth review, including soliciting public 
comments where appropriate. Should EPA determine that a project may 
contaminate the aquifer so as to

[[Page 38169]]

create a significant hazard to public health, no commitment for Federal 
assistance may be entered into. However, a commitment for Federal 
assistance may, if authorized under another provision of law, be 
entered into to plan or design the project to assure that it will not 
contaminate the aquifer.
    Although the project review process cannot be delegated to state or 
local agencies, the EPA will rely upon any existing or future state and 
local control mechanisms to the maximum extent possible in protecting 
the ground-water quality of the aquifer. Included in the review of any 
Federal financially assisted project will be coordination with local 
agencies. Their comments will be given full consideration, and the 
Federal review process will attempt to complement and support state and 
local groundwater quality protection mechanisms.

VI. Summary and Discussion of Public Comments

    In response to the public notice and public meeting, a total of 42 
oral and written comments were received. In general those who favor 
designation reside in the Town of Elk Mountain and are financially 
responsible for the drinking water system. Those opposed to designation 
are from the area outside of town and within the designated area. The 
majority of comments support the designation of the area as a sole or 
principal source of drinking water. In addition, a resolution 
supporting designation was adopted by the Town Council.
    No data were presented during the public comment period regarding 
aquifer characteristics, the boundary delineation or potential errors 
of fact presented in the petition.

    Dated: July 1, 1998
Jack W. McGraw,
Acting Regional Administrator, Region 8.
[FR Doc. 98-18865 Filed 7-14-98; 8:45 am]
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