Thursday, January 28, 2016
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is an unregulated contaminant but must be sampled for according to Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 3 (UCMR3) set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). UCMR3 requires that water systems collect data for contaminants that are suspected to be present in drinking water but do not have health-based standards for safety under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The rule is intended to see if future regulations and setting maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) on the chosen contaminants will be required.
The Montclair Water Bureau performs annual quality testing of the Township’s drinking water and the reports are sent to all customers and posted on the township website. The Township’s most recent “Annual Drinking Water Quality Report” from 2014 showed sampling readings from Montclair’s three wells to be above the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) PFOA guidance level of 40 parts per trillion (ppt). The wells were sampled twice in 2015 and the readings were found to be at 35, 44, 48, 42, 46, 42 ppt.
The DEP’s guidance level is the first phase of an ongoing process to establish a drinking water standard for PFOA. The science regarding PFOA is developing rapidly and the DEP will continue to conduct sampling and evaluate data from all sources as it becomes available. DEP is not recommending a change in consumption patterns based on the most current information. (Source: http://www.nj.gov/dep/watersupply/dwc_quality_pfoa.html)
“With levels so close to the guidance level, the NJ DEP did not recommend shutting off any wells,” said Montclair Water Bureau Director Gary Obszarny. “It’s important to note that due to decreased demand during the winter months, normally only the Glenfield well is in operation. Right now, because of low demand, all three wells are offline which means customers are receiving water only from the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission (NJDWSC),” he said.
The NJDWSC -- which supplies approximately 80% of the Township’s water -- also performed testing for PFOA and the result was “non-detect,” meaning no signs of the contaminant were found.
Following NJ DEP’s recommendations, the Water Bureau has sent out for sampling materials for additional testing of the wells. The samples will be analyzed by an EPA certified laboratory.
“Additional sampling from various locations in the distribution system will provide the Township with a better idea of the extent of unregulated contaminant levels so that appropriate measures can be put into place if necessary,” said Mr. Obszarny.
In addition, the Water Bureau is arranging for a professional services agreement for a comprehensive modeling of the Township’s water system to better understand and manage these issues.