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Pleasanton council mulls options to treat PFAS water contaminants

City leaders prefer self-implemented treatment for impacted wells

The Pleasanton City Council made headway on plans to repair a contaminated groundwater well and meet -- if not exceed -- future water quality standards earlier this month.

In a unanimous vote Sept. 1, the council approved a $437,374 contract with Walnut Creek-based Carollo Engineers to prepare a basis of design report for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) treatment and rehabilitating the city's groundwater wells 5, 6 and 8.

The report will decide the specifics of the $40 million treatment project, including the location and evaluating what treatment is best -- granulated activated carbon, ion exchange or a combination of the two -- and whether the treatment should be inside or outside.

City utilities planning manager Todd Yamello gave an update that evening on the city's current status and long-term plans to treat PFAS, which are a group of manmade chemicals found in nonstick cookware, paint and other common household solutions or items.

Concerns remain about past and current PFAS compounds contaminating water sources, especially groundwater wells near sites where the chemicals could be found more extensively, such as landfills, industrial properties, fire response sites and wastewater treatment plants.

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Last year, the council signed off on a response plan with near- and long-term strategies to address levels of certain human-made chemicals found in the local groundwater supply.

The move came after new state testing requirements led the city and Zone 7 Water Agency officials to discover their wells contain levels of synthetic compounds in the PFAS family. The city-operated Well 8 has not operated due to contamination since testing started last summer -- and this year, the city's Well 5 was non operational because of a pump motor failure.

"A lot of the systems are starting to reach the end of their useful life," Yamello said at the meeting, and added the city will need to incorporate new water treatment vessels -- like ion exchange or granular-activated carbon (GAC) vessels -- at the well sites. The site for Well 8 was favored for its potential room to expand by staff, who also said the location for Wells 5 and 6 has access challenges and little room for expansion.

For Pleasanton, 25% of the public water supply comes from the three city-owned and -operated groundwater wells and the rest is supplied by Zone 7, whose primary source is water delivered through the State Water Project, supplemented by local wells. Due to the well problems, Pleasanton has depended on Zone 7 to deliver more water during summer.

"Probably the bigger issue for us is meeting peak summer demands," Yamello said, which has historically required the city running at least two wells to meet demand in addition to what they receive from Zone 7. He added "if PFAS hits and takes away our ability to pump wells, there needs to be a solution."

One solution staff preferred is self-implementing treatment at the wells, which Yamello said "puts the schedule in our control and with (state) regulations coming fast, this is probably the best way to control our ability to meet them."

Another option is exploring regional solutions to implement treatment at another site or buy more water from Zone 7.

Olivia Sanwong, president of the Zone 7 Board of Directors, phoned in during public comment of the Sept. 1 council meeting to "drive home the point" that the board hasn't made any final decisions on proceeding with a water treatment project and that she was open to an inter-agency collaboration.

"There are seven of us, and so it's possible you may have had a conversation with your favorite member of the board and they could have said one thing, and then when you talk to another member of the board, they may say another," Sanwong said. "Please keep that in mind, that we haven't considered what we're going to do in regards to this topic and addressing the issue."

On the matter of local control, Sanwong said, "I live here in Pleasanton, I'm on our Zone 7 Board. I want you to think of Zone 7, we are also your local water agency. It's the same groundwater basin that we're drawing water from…so please, when you think local control, you do consider Zone 7 as part of your local option, and for me, personally, I'm one of seven that I really do want us to explore the opportunity for a partnership."

During council discussion, Vice Mayor Kathy Narum spoke to the city's "need to work with Zone 7 but support local control as it relates to the wells," while Councilwoman Karla Brown said the city needs to "look to the state and federal government" for financial assistance because "it is going to be expensive. We need to reach out for grants and low-interest loans."

Yamello also gave an overview of a work plan to repair the wells; including outlined stages for simultaneously designing and constructing the project through 2023. Staff recommended moving forward with planning and designing for self-implemented PFAS treatment for all three wells.

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Pleasanton council mulls options to treat PFAS water contaminants

City leaders prefer self-implemented treatment for impacted wells

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Sun, Sep 13, 2020, 4:49 pm
Updated: Mon, Sep 14, 2020, 7:36 pm

The Pleasanton City Council made headway on plans to repair a contaminated groundwater well and meet -- if not exceed -- future water quality standards earlier this month.

In a unanimous vote Sept. 1, the council approved a $437,374 contract with Walnut Creek-based Carollo Engineers to prepare a basis of design report for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) treatment and rehabilitating the city's groundwater wells 5, 6 and 8.

The report will decide the specifics of the $40 million treatment project, including the location and evaluating what treatment is best -- granulated activated carbon, ion exchange or a combination of the two -- and whether the treatment should be inside or outside.

City utilities planning manager Todd Yamello gave an update that evening on the city's current status and long-term plans to treat PFAS, which are a group of manmade chemicals found in nonstick cookware, paint and other common household solutions or items.

Concerns remain about past and current PFAS compounds contaminating water sources, especially groundwater wells near sites where the chemicals could be found more extensively, such as landfills, industrial properties, fire response sites and wastewater treatment plants.

Last year, the council signed off on a response plan with near- and long-term strategies to address levels of certain human-made chemicals found in the local groundwater supply.

The move came after new state testing requirements led the city and Zone 7 Water Agency officials to discover their wells contain levels of synthetic compounds in the PFAS family. The city-operated Well 8 has not operated due to contamination since testing started last summer -- and this year, the city's Well 5 was non operational because of a pump motor failure.

"A lot of the systems are starting to reach the end of their useful life," Yamello said at the meeting, and added the city will need to incorporate new water treatment vessels -- like ion exchange or granular-activated carbon (GAC) vessels -- at the well sites. The site for Well 8 was favored for its potential room to expand by staff, who also said the location for Wells 5 and 6 has access challenges and little room for expansion.

For Pleasanton, 25% of the public water supply comes from the three city-owned and -operated groundwater wells and the rest is supplied by Zone 7, whose primary source is water delivered through the State Water Project, supplemented by local wells. Due to the well problems, Pleasanton has depended on Zone 7 to deliver more water during summer.

"Probably the bigger issue for us is meeting peak summer demands," Yamello said, which has historically required the city running at least two wells to meet demand in addition to what they receive from Zone 7. He added "if PFAS hits and takes away our ability to pump wells, there needs to be a solution."

One solution staff preferred is self-implementing treatment at the wells, which Yamello said "puts the schedule in our control and with (state) regulations coming fast, this is probably the best way to control our ability to meet them."

Another option is exploring regional solutions to implement treatment at another site or buy more water from Zone 7.

Olivia Sanwong, president of the Zone 7 Board of Directors, phoned in during public comment of the Sept. 1 council meeting to "drive home the point" that the board hasn't made any final decisions on proceeding with a water treatment project and that she was open to an inter-agency collaboration.

"There are seven of us, and so it's possible you may have had a conversation with your favorite member of the board and they could have said one thing, and then when you talk to another member of the board, they may say another," Sanwong said. "Please keep that in mind, that we haven't considered what we're going to do in regards to this topic and addressing the issue."

On the matter of local control, Sanwong said, "I live here in Pleasanton, I'm on our Zone 7 Board. I want you to think of Zone 7, we are also your local water agency. It's the same groundwater basin that we're drawing water from…so please, when you think local control, you do consider Zone 7 as part of your local option, and for me, personally, I'm one of seven that I really do want us to explore the opportunity for a partnership."

During council discussion, Vice Mayor Kathy Narum spoke to the city's "need to work with Zone 7 but support local control as it relates to the wells," while Councilwoman Karla Brown said the city needs to "look to the state and federal government" for financial assistance because "it is going to be expensive. We need to reach out for grants and low-interest loans."

Yamello also gave an overview of a work plan to repair the wells; including outlined stages for simultaneously designing and constructing the project through 2023. Staff recommended moving forward with planning and designing for self-implemented PFAS treatment for all three wells.

Comments

Pamela
Registered user
Alisal Elementary School
on Sep 14, 2020 at 10:24 am
Pamela, Alisal Elementary School
Registered user
on Sep 14, 2020 at 10:24 am
10 people like this

In view of regular testing and monitoring, why is the high contaminant issue only now being addressed?


Michael Regal
Registered user
Carriage Gardens
on Sep 14, 2020 at 11:35 am
Michael Regal, Carriage Gardens
Registered user
on Sep 14, 2020 at 11:35 am
8 people like this

Are there recommended home filtration systems that can filter out these PFAS?


Robert Hallett
Registered user
Mission Park
on Sep 14, 2020 at 3:48 pm
Robert Hallett, Mission Park
Registered user
on Sep 14, 2020 at 3:48 pm
4 people like this

Has anyone contacted East Bay MUD about using there water? In my opinion it’s a higher quality of water.


BobB
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2020 at 7:15 pm
BobB, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 14, 2020 at 7:15 pm
23 people like this

It's a response to new regulations.


Marco Rodrigues
Registered user
Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 16, 2020 at 10:44 pm
Marco Rodrigues, Pleasanton Valley
Registered user
on Sep 16, 2020 at 10:44 pm
9 people like this

Michael, I addressed this problem at home and documented the process here:

Web Link


Michael Regal
Registered user
Carriage Gardens
on Sep 17, 2020 at 10:12 am
Michael Regal, Carriage Gardens
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2020 at 10:12 am
1 person likes this

Marco!!!!! Fantastic information!!!!!

I've used Savior Plumbing for some projects in my household already. Nothing but great things to say about Savior Plumbing ... they get my highest recommendation.

It didn't jump off the page and I have yet to dig through specs, but do you know definitively that your system is able to filter the PFAS being discussed?

Thanks ... Mike


LPW
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2020 at 10:58 am
LPW, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2020 at 10:58 am
3 people like this

Contacted Zone 7 regarding what RO systems to recommend for PFAS removal since I'm shopping for one. This response was sent back to me if you are interested:

This may be helpful in searching for a reverse osmosis system: To find products certified for reduction of PFOA and PFOS by NSF International, visit NSF’s certification listings or contact the NSF International consumer information team at [email protected] or 1.800.673.8010.
Web Link


Linda Kelly
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Sep 17, 2020 at 2:49 pm
Linda Kelly, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Sep 17, 2020 at 2:49 pm
7 people like this

Most filters of this type use GAC. Water-speak for Granulated Activated Carbon. Same as your refrigerator filter. Probably too expensive, but not very expensive. Little old ladies like me can change it with minimal effort.
The water delivered to your home has it, so the water coming into your homes is perfectly safe to drink.


David
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 19, 2020 at 9:42 am
David, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 19, 2020 at 9:42 am
4 people like this

GAC is the definite way to go. When I lived in Pitt, our district used these. In my opinion, it's the most efficient way to treat and consume water. But that's obviously up to the council and the professionals who should be informing them.

Web Link


Michael Regal
Registered user
Carriage Gardens
on Sep 22, 2020 at 10:18 am
Michael Regal, Carriage Gardens
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2020 at 10:18 am
1 person likes this

It seems like Pleasanton has a PFAS problem, but so far the recommended websites have talked about PFOS and PFOA ... I'm no expert, so I don't know if these acronyms all imply the same problem. If you find a product that filters PFOS, does that mean it's good for PFAS?

That's not obvious to me, but my natural inclination is to say no. PFAS is different than PFOS. So buying a PFOS product doesn't necessarily guarantee you have mitigated a PFAS issue.

Anyone have some knowledge in this area?


Linda Kelly
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Sep 22, 2020 at 3:10 pm
Linda Kelly, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2020 at 3:10 pm
2 people like this

Michael Regal, PFAS is the larger class of chemicals while PFOA and PFOS are some of the chemicals within that classification or group. Like Pleasanton and Dublin are cities in Alameda County. The National Institute of Environmental Sciences studies show that Granulated Activated Carbon is effective at removing this class of chemicals, as well as lots of other stuff. If you have a fridge filter, it already is that kind of filter. Very common. Simple.

From the FDA, EPA, etc.:

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of human-made chemicals that are found in a wide range of products used by consumers and industry. There are nearly 5,000 different types of PFAS, some of which have been more widely used and studied than others. Many PFAS are resistant to grease, oil, water, and heat. For this reason, beginning in the 1940’s, PFAS have been used in a variety of applications including in stain- and water-resistant fabrics and carpeting, cleaning products, paints, and fire-fighting foams. Certain PFAS are also authorized by the FDA for limited use in cookware, food packaging, and food processing equipment.

From the Minnesota department of Pollution Control:

PFOS – Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) was the key ingredient in the stain repellant Scotchgard, and was used in surface coatings for common household items such as carpets, furniture, and waterproof clothing.
PFOA – Perfluorooctanoic acid was used in the production of nonstick coatings for cookware. The best known of these coatings, PTFE or Teflon™, is made from PFOA and may contain some traces of PFOA. It was also used in production of carpets, upholstery, clothing, floor wax, and sealants.


been there
Registered user
Del Prado
on Sep 22, 2020 at 3:48 pm
been there, Del Prado
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2020 at 3:48 pm
2 people like this

The category of man-made chemicals mentioned here is called Forever Chemicals, because they remain forever in the environment. You might want to read a book called, "Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed, and One Lawyer's Twenty Year Battle Against DuPont." by Robert Bilott. The book jacket reads" A little known and unregulated chemical represents the greatest human health crisis of our time. This chemical is inside you and everyone you know. "
The movie version is called "Dark Waters" and there is also a full documentary made by the attorney who successfully sued DuPont for poisoning a community with their toxic PFOS in runoff from a DuPont landfill.
While our situation may not be this drastic, it is wise to investigate all you can from reliable sources so our leaders have support and are not blind-sided by parties that may want to down-play the impact of these Forever Chemicals in our water. We already know they are there. SO stay vigilant, my friends.
If you want to get more information on this topic, EWG.org (Environmental Working Group) has some excellent research reports


Linda Kelly
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Sep 22, 2020 at 7:34 pm
Linda Kelly, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Sep 22, 2020 at 7:34 pm
9 people like this

Environmental Working Group is an alarmist group known for misleading reports and fearmongering. It is funded by the organic food industry, and it's biased reports represent that industry's idea that everything must be pure. If you choose to follow Been There's link to EWG, be sure to also follow this link Web Link to read both sides of the story.


been there
Registered user
Del Prado
on Sep 23, 2020 at 10:38 am
been there, Del Prado
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2020 at 10:38 am
2 people like this

Thank you Linda for pointing out the importance of doing your own research. I hope that we can deal with our toxic PFAS and PFOS issue to your satisfaction. It sounds like you are fine with having known toxic Chemicals in your water and the environment. But since you vilify the organic foods "industry", I hope you live well and stay away from the Farmers' Markets.


BobB
Registered user
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2020 at 2:08 pm
BobB, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2020 at 2:08 pm
6 people like this

Thank you Linda kelly,

Here is a more scientific, balanced particle on these chemicals.

Web Link


Linda Kelly
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Sep 23, 2020 at 3:14 pm
Linda Kelly, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2020 at 3:14 pm
6 people like this

Thank you, BobB. There are lots and lots of articles regarding the substances. People need to not panic about them, be aware that they're there, but realize the water suppliers are and have been aware so there is no need to fear drinking the water.


Linda Kelly
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Sep 23, 2020 at 4:42 pm
Linda Kelly, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Sep 23, 2020 at 4:42 pm
Like this comment

Robert Hallett, EBay Mud presents a logistical problem in getting a distribution system in place to bring the water to the Tri-Valley. East Bay Mud getis its water from the Mokelumne River aquaduct system. Costs involved in constructing a pipeline to join into it would be prohibitively costly, and make not sense to water rates. Look at the geography of the sources and you may gain a better understanding of how it works.


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