Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
Most chemical contaminants identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are localized in their impact and can be traced to a single source. But Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), are a new and wide-spread concern we’re only just beginning to understand.
Your Local Water Utility and PFAS
At SYSTEM, we take the trust placed in us by our customers seriously and are proud to deliver quality water to our friends and neighbors. We regularly test drinking water to make sure our water remains in adherence with Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) standards. SYSTEM has been proactively testing for PFOS/PFOA since 2020. The most recent testing results are reported in our water quality reports. The most recent testing results are reported in our Water Quality Reports.
And while we continue to test for PFOS/PFOA, we also expanded our testing program to include PFBS and GenX Chemicals. Sampling allows us to be better prepared as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed drinking water standards for six PFAS. We will take appropriate actions to meet new regulations and already started testing for the proposed Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs). Our focus will remain, as always, on supplying our customers with safe and reliable water service.
Also, we are engaged with the EPA and provided comments in response to the proposed MCLs, along with other water utilities across the country including the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) of which we are a member.
We appreciate the EPA's efforts to protect public health and the environment from the harmful PFAS chemicals that pose a risk to many. We support the EPA's efforts to better understand PFAS sources and take measured and practical approaches in gathering data and assessing the risks of PFAS to public health and the environment. We will take appropriate actions to meet new regulations.
We also support policies that hold polluters accountable and provide stronger actions against the sources of the contamination, as drinking water suppliers are passive receivers of these contaminants.
Additional information on PFAS from the EPA can be found at https://www.epa.gov/pfas.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are PFAS/PFOA?
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are manufactured chemicals historically used in many household products, including nonstick cookware (e.g., Teflon™), stain repellants (e.g., Scotchgard™), and waterproofing (e.g., GORE-TEX™). They are or were also used in industrial applications such as in firefighting foams and electronics production. There are thousands of PFAS chemicals, and they persist in the environment. Additional information on PFAS from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can be found at https://www.epa.gov/pfas.
What are you doing about PFAS in drinking water?
We regularly test drinking water to make sure our water remains in adherence with Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) standards. We have been proactively testing for PFOS/PFOA since 2020. The most recent testing results are reported in our water quality reports. The water quality reports and information about PFAS are available on our website.
And while we continue to test for PFOS/PFOA, we also expanded our testing program to include PFBS and GenX Chemicals. Our PFAS sampling program also allows us to be better prepared as the U.S. EPA works to finalize proposed drinking water standards for six PFAS. We will take appropriate actions to meet the new regulation.
What are MCLs?
MCLs, Maximum Contaminant Levels, are enforceable standards that set the maximum concentration of a contaminant(s) allowable in drinking water. In this case, PFOA and PFOS would be regulated as individual contaminants, and PFHxS, PFNA, PFBS, and GenX as a PFAS mixture.
What laws oversee MCLs?
The U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was enacted by Congress to protect the quality of drinking water. State agencies enforce the MCLs for local drinking water supplies.
What treatment technologies exist to remove PFAS from drinking water?
Activated carbon, anion exchange, and high-pressure membranes have all been demonstrated to remove these chemicals from drinking water systems. We are prepared to invest in necessary infrastructure if needed to support quality drinking water.
What is the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR)?
As part of its responsibilities under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the EPA implements Section 1445(a)(2), Monitoring Program for Unregulated Contaminants. The SDWA requires that once every five years, the EPA issue a list of priority unregulated contaminants to be monitored by certain public water systems across States, Tribes, and Territories. For each UCMR cycle, EPA establishes a new list of contaminants for monitoring, specifies which systems are required to monitor, identifies the sampling locations, and defines the analytical methods to be used.
How does the UCMR support public health?
The purpose of UCMR is to collect data from water systems about contaminants that may be present in drinking water but are not yet subject to EPA drinking water standards. Under the UCMR, EPA collects nationally representative drinking water occurrence data to support EPA’s future regulatory determinations and, as appropriate, assist in the development of national primary drinking water regulations (NPDWRs).
What is the UCMR 5?
On December 17, 2021, EPA Administrator Michael Regan signed the final "Revisions to the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5) for Public Water Systems" and the rule was subsequently published in the Federal Register on December 27, 2021 (86 FR 73131). The 5-year UCMR 5 cycle spans 2022 – 2026, with preparations in 2022, sample collection from 2023 – 2025, and completion of data reporting in 2026.
What does UCMR 5 Monitor?
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 requires EPA include all PFAS in UCMR 5 for which a drinking water method has been validated and are not subject to NPDWR. UCMR 5 requires monitoring for 30 chemical contaminants - 29 PFAS and lithium - from January 2023 through December 2025.
Lithium is a naturally occurring metal. Lithium salts are used as pharmaceuticals, used in electrochemical cells, batteries, and in organic syntheses.
What systems participated in UCMR 5 testing?
On August 17, 2023, EPA released the results of the first of 12 segments of monitoring data from water systems across the nation – the first data released under UCMR 5. Information can be found here Occurrence Data from the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule | US EPA.
How can I learn more about PFAS?
At the national level, U.S. EPA has proposed drinking water standards for six PFAS and is gathering more information on these and other PFAS chemicals. More information is in the U.S. EPA PFAS Strategic Roadmap, available at https://www.epa.gov/pfas/pfas-strategic-roadmap-epas-commitments-action-2021-2024. PFAS health effect information can also be found on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at https://atsdr.cdc.gov/pfas/index.html.
PFAS Results for Your Community