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Posted on: February 7, 2020

Western’s water is still safe to drink, even after state lowers response threshold for PFAS

RIVERSIDE, CA – On Thursday, Feb. 6, the California Division of Drinking Water (DDW) issued new response levels (RLs) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) at ten parts per trillion and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) at 40 parts per trillion. At this time, Western Municipal Water District’s drinking water system is not impacted by the updated response levels.

Western’s water continues to meet or exceed all local, state and federal water quality standards, including the updated standards relating to PFOA and PFOS.

“Public health and providing safe, reliable water is Western’s top priority,” said General Manager Craig Miller. “When Western customers turn on their tap, they can count on their water being purified, tested and monitored to protect their health and safety.”

Still used today and known collectively as PFAS, this group of chemicals are resistant to heat, water and oil. For decades, they have been used in many industrial applications and consumer products such as carpeting, waterproof clothing, upholstery, food paper wrappings, fire-fighting foams, and metal plating. PFAS have been found at low levels both in the environment and in blood samples of the general U.S. population, dated back to 1940s.

Because PFAS have been so widely used, most Americans have been exposed to them.

People ingest PFAS by eating, drinking or breathing the chemicals when they are present in food, water, fire retardants, and consumer and industrial products. Based on research cited by the California State Water Resources Control Board, most people are exposed to PFAS through food – via food packaging, farming processes, or bioaccumulation (gradual chemical buildup).

Over time, PFAS also have accumulated in land near airports, industrial sites, military bases, and landfills. Once PFAS leach into the land, the chemicals can, in some cases, seep into groundwater.

New advanced detection science means that traces of PFOA and PFOS are being regulated by parts per trillion, which is about four grains of sugar in an Olympic-size swimming pool or one pinch of salt in ten tons of potato chips.

“As new and more advanced detection technologies uncover extremely low concentrations of chemicals, Western will continue to deliver water to our customers that meets and exceed water quality standards,” said Miller.

Western is committed to ensuring safe, reliable drinking water for each of its 25,000 residential and business connections in portions of Riverside, Murrieta and Rainbow. Western’s water is primarily derived from pure Northern California snowmelt. Furthermore, regional desalters can offer Western a PFAS backstop by removing PFOA or PFOS from local groundwater.

Western takes a range of steps to ensure safe water 365-days-a-year, seven-days-a-week and 24-hours per day, including:

  • Following state and federal drinking water standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California State Water Resources Control Board. These agencies follow an approach that includes proven science and technology but also takes into account the treatment process and regulates the operators who manage our systems.
  • The daily collection of water samples from Western’s water system. In all, state-certified monitors test more than 4,500 water samples per year for purity.
  • The continuous monitoring of innovation in chemical detection and treatment technology.
  • Regular, transparent communication with customers about water quality, treatment and safety.

To learn more about PFAS, visit www.wmwd.com/PFAS or visit www.waterboards.ca.gov/pfas. For more information about Western’s water quality, visit www.wmwd.com/WaterQuality.

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Western Municipal Water District is one of the largest public agencies in Riverside County providing water and sewer services to nearly a million people, both retail and wholesale customers who live, work and play  within 527-square miles in one of California’s most populous regions.

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