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Eight culinary water systems in Box Elder County do not meet federal purity standards.

"If the county is not the worst, it's right up there at the top," said Ken Bousfield, state drinking water and sanitation manager.Community water supply ratings, released this week by the Utah Division of Drinking Water, showed problems in Box Elder County ranging from bacterial contamination to missing reports.

"In many cases, these are problems that have been ongoing for years," Bousfield said. One example is the 50-user Grouse Creek system that has not been in compliance since 1975.

Two systems in Morgan County and one in Weber County also are unapproved. Davis County, however, has no unapproved culinary systems.

Bousfield said the lone Weber County system not in compliance - the Hermitage Water System in Ogden Canyon - should not even exist.

He said the users should abandon the system and hook up to Ogden water that can be made avail-able to them. One user of the system, who did not want to be identified, said that is a solution that has been suggested to the state.

The system serves only 34 people.

The largest unapproved system is Willard. It serves 2,200 residents. The problems mostly are caused by inadequate lines and storage tanks.

But the problems are serious enough that last November the city received a notification of violation for operating an unapproved water system.

The state also threatened Willard with up to $5,000 in daily penalties if the city didn't solve the problems. The mandate came several months after dead rodents were found in one of the system's storage tanks.

In Willard's defense, Mayor Wayne Braegger said the system "has never had a bad water test for bacteria."

He also said the problems soon will be solved.

In fact, Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, announced this week that Willard has been awarded a $469,300 grant to upgrade its water system. The money will go toward replacing a pump, building a new storage tank and putting in new distribution lines.

Drinking water division reports going back as far as the 1970s regularly list problems with Box Elder water systems. Bousfield said most of the problems involve small systems that have from 50 to 600 users. He said smaller systems do not have the funds to afford repairs, or even money to keep up with the monitoring required by the Environmental Protection Agency.