V PRO^4-0
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Inspector General
At a Glance
February 14, 2006
Why We Did This Review
This review was conducted in
conjunction with the
President's Council on Integrity
and Efficiency as part of its
examination of relief efforts
provided by the Federal
Government in the aftermath of
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
We conducted this evaluation
to assess the Environmental
Protection Agency's (EPA's)
and the State of Mississippi's
efforts to ensure that the public
was provided with safe
drinking water after Katrina.
On August 29, 2005, Hurricane
Katrina, a Category 3 hurricane
on the Safir-Simpson scale,
made landfall on the
Mississippi coast. Katrina
devastated the Gulf Coast of
Mississippi and rendered many
public water systems
inoperable. As a result of the
hurricane, 585 of the State's
1,368 public water systems
were placed under a boil water
notice because of potentially
contaminated drinking water.
For further information,
contact our Office of
Congressional and Public
Liaison at (202) 566-2391.
To view the full report,
click on the following link:
20060214-2006-P-00011 .pdf
Catalyst for Improving the Environment
EPA's and Mississippi's Efforts to Assess and Restore
Public Drinking Water Supplies after Hurricane Katrina
What We Found
While we did not assess the extent to which drinking water-related
communications were received and understood by the public, the information we
reviewed indicated that the Mississippi Department of Health and drinking water
system operators provided the public with timely and accurate information about
the safety and proper treatment of public drinking water supplies. On August 31,
2005, less than 48 hours after Katrina made landfall, the Department of Health
issued a blanket boil water notice for all public water systems in the State's six
most impacted counties located in the coastal region of Mississippi.
Mississippi's process for determining the safety of drinking water appeared
adequate to support the determinations made. EPA Region 4 provided both
technical and logistical support to Mississippi in making these determinations.
This support included, but was not limited to, providing Mississippi with a
mobile laboratory to perform sample analysis, and providing personnel to help
courier samples to the labs for analysis. Disease monitoring after Hurricane
Katrina indicated that drinking water supplies were not a source of
bacteriological contamination. Neither EPA, the Mississippi Department of
Health, nor local water system operators we spoke with had identified or heard of
occurrences of waterborne illnesses or diseases from drinking contaminated
public water supplies in the 2 months following Hurricane Katrina.
With assistance from EPA and others, the State had assessed the operating status
of all but 10 of the State's 1,368 public water systems by September 15, 2005,
about 2 weeks after Katrina. These systems serve approximately 3.1 million
people in Mississippi. While considerable progress has been made in assessing
the operational status of the 1,368 public water systems in Mississippi and
bringing damaged facilities back on-line, considerable work remains to restore
the drinking water infrastructure to pre-Katrina conditions. Mississippi officials
estimated public water system replacements and repairs due to Hurricane Katrina
will cost approximately $235 million.
Our review did not identify any conditions requiring corrective actions and no
recommendations are made.