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EPA orders closures of 15 cesspools in Arizona national forests

(Facebook/U.S. Forest Service-Tonto National Forest)

PHOENIX — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that more than a dozen cesspools must be closed in Arizona national forests.

The agency said 15 campground pit toilets in the Apache-Sitgreaves, Tonto, Coconino and Kaibab national forests are in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act’s 2005 ban on large-capacity cesspools.

The cesspools discharge untreated raw sewage into the ground, which can cause pathogens to contaminate bodies of water, the agency said.

The U.S. Forest Service will have until December 2024 to close the areas and comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The agencies’ agreement also includes reporting requirements and fines for the Forest Service if it doesn’t meet deadlines.

“Closing cesspools in national forests is important to protect the drinking water resources and the health of those using our public lands,” Mike Stoker, EPA Pacific Southwest regional administrator, said in a press release.

“We are pleased that the Forest Service helped to identify the cesspools and committed to address these violations.”

The public is able to submit comments on the agreement through Aug. 15.

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