News

Pleasanton council to review report on PFAS levels in local water supply

City staff to present recommendations for addressing issues going forward

The Pleasanton City Council is set Tuesday to discuss a report from city staff about the response plan to address levels of human-made chemicals in the so-called "per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) family" found in the local water supply.

Generally used for surface coating as an oil and water repellent as well as in firefighting foams, PFAS materials have been phased out by U.S. manufacturers to a major degree but concerns remain about the chemicals contaminating water sources, according to Kathleen Yurchak, director of operations and water utilities.

The State Water Resource Control Board's Division of Drinking Water issued orders this year for local water agencies to test their sources for PFAS contaminants, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), Yurchak said in her in staff report to the council.

"Exposure to unsafe levels of PFOA and PFOS over a period of time may result in adverse health effects including developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy, cancer, liver effects, immune effects, thyroid effects and cholesterol changes," Yurchak stated.

The results of groundwater well testing for the city and the Zone 7 Water Agency raised some red flags.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support PleasantonWeekly.com for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

Initial Zone 7 tests found some groundwater wells to be above the notification levels for PFOS or PFOA, with one well -- Mocho-1 -- testing above the response level for both, according to city officials.

For the city's three active groundwater wells, Well 5 and Well 6 tested above the notification level for PFOS only while Well 8 tested above the level for combined PFOS and PFOA, according to city officials.

As a result, Mocho-1 and Well 8 have been designated as last priority, for use only when absolutely needed for meeting the water demand. City officials noted that its Well 8 has not been in operation since the initial testing and would only be used "under abnormal conditions such as extreme peak demand periods or if there are failures of other supply facilities."

"The city will continue to monitor and test all the wells and collaborate with Zone 7 toward identifying the source of PFOA and PFOS, and has begun investigating infrastructure solutions such as treatment technologies at groundwater wells and the feasibility of increasing imported surface water supplies that meet recommended PFAS levels," officials wrote on the city's PFAS webpage.

PFAS have been extensively used commercially as protectant agents for items such as paper or cardboard packaging, carpets, leather products, textiles, nonstick coatings on cookware and firefighting foams, according to Yurchak.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

While PFOA and PFOS have been phased out by American manufacturers, replacement substances in the PFAS family were developed and "appear to behave in a similar toxicological manner," she said.

The major sources of PFAS are fire training or fire response sites (such as airports), industrial sites, landfills and wastewater treatment plants, according to Yurchak.

"Groundwater contamination with PFAS has typically been associated with these sources. PFAS are very stable in the environment and are resistant to breaking down. Once in groundwater they can easily be transported large distances and can contaminate drinking water wells," she said.

City staff have created short- and long-term recommendations to address the contamination concerns based on the initial testing results for Pleasanton's water supply.

Near-term plans include "implementation of operational strategies and public notification" while long-term concepts include "treatment evaluations, alternative water supply evaluations, financial impact evaluations, increased legislative tracking, and regional planning," Yurchak said.

The council is set to talk about those recommendations after hearing a full report on the city's PFAS situation on Tuesday night.

The report is the council's main discussion item listed on the regular meeting agenda, scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. inside the council chamber at the Pleasanton Civic Center, 200 Old Bernal Ave.

In other business, council members will discuss the final operating budget report -- reflecting the unaudited actual financial results -- for the 2018-19 fiscal year, including how to designate general fund reserves. They will also be presented with a 15-item consent calendar.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

Follow PleasantonWeekly.com and the Pleasanton Weekly on Twitter @pleasantonnews, Facebook and on Instagram @pleasantonweekly for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Pleasanton council to review report on PFAS levels in local water supply

City staff to present recommendations for addressing issues going forward

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Nov 4, 2019, 4:57 pm

The Pleasanton City Council is set Tuesday to discuss a report from city staff about the response plan to address levels of human-made chemicals in the so-called "per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) family" found in the local water supply.

Generally used for surface coating as an oil and water repellent as well as in firefighting foams, PFAS materials have been phased out by U.S. manufacturers to a major degree but concerns remain about the chemicals contaminating water sources, according to Kathleen Yurchak, director of operations and water utilities.

The State Water Resource Control Board's Division of Drinking Water issued orders this year for local water agencies to test their sources for PFAS contaminants, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), Yurchak said in her in staff report to the council.

"Exposure to unsafe levels of PFOA and PFOS over a period of time may result in adverse health effects including developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy, cancer, liver effects, immune effects, thyroid effects and cholesterol changes," Yurchak stated.

The results of groundwater well testing for the city and the Zone 7 Water Agency raised some red flags.

Initial Zone 7 tests found some groundwater wells to be above the notification levels for PFOS or PFOA, with one well -- Mocho-1 -- testing above the response level for both, according to city officials.

For the city's three active groundwater wells, Well 5 and Well 6 tested above the notification level for PFOS only while Well 8 tested above the level for combined PFOS and PFOA, according to city officials.

As a result, Mocho-1 and Well 8 have been designated as last priority, for use only when absolutely needed for meeting the water demand. City officials noted that its Well 8 has not been in operation since the initial testing and would only be used "under abnormal conditions such as extreme peak demand periods or if there are failures of other supply facilities."

"The city will continue to monitor and test all the wells and collaborate with Zone 7 toward identifying the source of PFOA and PFOS, and has begun investigating infrastructure solutions such as treatment technologies at groundwater wells and the feasibility of increasing imported surface water supplies that meet recommended PFAS levels," officials wrote on the city's PFAS webpage.

PFAS have been extensively used commercially as protectant agents for items such as paper or cardboard packaging, carpets, leather products, textiles, nonstick coatings on cookware and firefighting foams, according to Yurchak.

While PFOA and PFOS have been phased out by American manufacturers, replacement substances in the PFAS family were developed and "appear to behave in a similar toxicological manner," she said.

The major sources of PFAS are fire training or fire response sites (such as airports), industrial sites, landfills and wastewater treatment plants, according to Yurchak.

"Groundwater contamination with PFAS has typically been associated with these sources. PFAS are very stable in the environment and are resistant to breaking down. Once in groundwater they can easily be transported large distances and can contaminate drinking water wells," she said.

City staff have created short- and long-term recommendations to address the contamination concerns based on the initial testing results for Pleasanton's water supply.

Near-term plans include "implementation of operational strategies and public notification" while long-term concepts include "treatment evaluations, alternative water supply evaluations, financial impact evaluations, increased legislative tracking, and regional planning," Yurchak said.

The council is set to talk about those recommendations after hearing a full report on the city's PFAS situation on Tuesday night.

The report is the council's main discussion item listed on the regular meeting agenda, scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. inside the council chamber at the Pleasanton Civic Center, 200 Old Bernal Ave.

In other business, council members will discuss the final operating budget report -- reflecting the unaudited actual financial results -- for the 2018-19 fiscal year, including how to designate general fund reserves. They will also be presented with a 15-item consent calendar.

Comments

Patty
Birdland
on Nov 5, 2019 at 10:57 am
Patty, Birdland
on Nov 5, 2019 at 10:57 am
2 people like this

Questioning if it is advisable to drink and cook with bottled water considering the current levels of these substances in our water. Also are most filtering systems as well as those provided in refrigerator water dispensers capable of filtering out these chemicals. Would appreciate anyone’s information on this. Thanks.


Hotslide
Oak Tree Acres
on Nov 5, 2019 at 11:22 am
Hotslide, Oak Tree Acres
on Nov 5, 2019 at 11:22 am
4 people like this

I have been drinking Pleasantons water for a long time. So what exactly constitutes a "notification level"? Have I just been notified that I have consumed too much of these toxins? And what mitigation efforts have other water providers taken to remove them?


Wombat
Downtown
on Nov 5, 2019 at 11:53 am
Wombat, Downtown
on Nov 5, 2019 at 11:53 am
2 people like this

@Patty wrote "Questioning if it is advisable to drink and cook with bottled water considering the current levels of these substances in our water."

From the article it seems unclear how big of a health threat the current situation is. Usually "notification levels" are set well below the levels of actual health and safety concerns. Don't know what kind of refrigerator filter you're talking about, but if it's an activated carbon filter then those are effective at capturing PFAS chemicals, although you need to make sure that the filter isn't too old because it will lose effectiveness over time as it gets saturated after capturing more and more chemicals.

I think that the best water filtration systems available for household use are reverse osmosis water filters. We have a 5-stage reverse osmosis (RO) system that sits in the cabinet under our kitchen sink. The first three stages filter out small particles and the 4th stage consists of a "membrane filter" which has tiny pores that are so small that virtually nothing bigger than a water molecule can pass through it. Household RO systems go for around $200-$300. You can probably find one at Home Depot or Lowes or Amazon, etc.



Sensible Citizen
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Nov 5, 2019 at 12:38 pm
Sensible Citizen, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2019 at 12:38 pm
2 people like this

Patty, Hotslide, and Wombat, visit Zone 7 website for details about notification levels and what it means for residents drinking the water.

Web Link

Short answer, no, we have not been subjected to dangerous toxins in our water. The notification level is currently 70 parts per trillion, equal to 1 gram in about 20 olympic size swimming pools. Pleasanton sent out a flyer recently, detailing the issue and measures that have been taken. It is important to note that only recently has technology existed to test for these compounds, and neither state nor federal standards have existed. There is no cause for panic, bottled water likely poses as much threat from materials leached from being dispensed in plastic bottles.
Our water has been and is perfectly safe to drink. The city has set up a web page dedicated to PFAS/PFOS and the state is conducting a webinar on November 15

Web Link

We owe it to ourselves and our families and friends to be aware but not alarmed. Don't lose sight of the simple fact that our local and regional government leaders live here, too, and they also drink and cook with and bathe in the water just as the rest of us do. Every effort is being put forth to keep us informed of developments, and there is no scientific evidence saying our water is bad for us.



Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.