PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are manmade compounds that have been around since the 1940s. Among the unique properties PFAS possess are oil- and water-repellence, resistance to degradation (due to their strong carbon-fluorine bonds), and surfactant-like characteristics. As such, they have been used in a wide variety of industrial and consumer applications. Over the years, they’ve appeared in products ranging from cleaning products to firefighting foams and are used as coatings to treat clothing, carpeting, packaging, and cookware.
Unfortunately, their widespread use has led to environmental contamination in soil, air, and water. Already two individual “long-chain” PFAS, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), have been phased out of production in the USA and EU due to concerns about their effects on human health and the environment. The very properties which made them so useful — the strong carbon-fluorine bonds and their resistance to moisture and heat — render them hard to breakdown and remove, especially from water. For this, they’ve been dubbed “forever chemicals.”
In the Orange County groundwater basin, the presence of PFAS was first detected by the Orange County Water District (OCWD) during the 2013-2015 federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule 3 (UCMR3) program. Additional information has been gathered through state-ordered testing that began in the spring of 2019.
The District has spearheaded proactive efforts in the County to address the challenge of locally-impacted wells and to encourage the use of sound science as the basis for PFAS drinking water standards. Now, as the State of California works to establish advisory drinking water guidelines (e.g., Notification and Response Levels) and develops enforceable standards (e.g., Maximum Contaminant Levels), OCWD is conducting pilot wellhead treatment, planning, and engineering design efforts in support of local retail water agencies with PFAS-impacted groundwater supplies.
Depending on levels set for state or federal PFAS drinking water standards, preliminary estimates of financial impacts could be in excess of $850 million over the next 30 years for the Orange County region alone. OCWD is preparing to take on operating challenges that could heavily impact it and its member agencies to ensure the safety and reliability of the local water supply for the 2.5 million people in its service area.
Join us, June 17th, for a timely, informative discussion of this looming water quality issue. As the Executive Director of Water Quality & Technical Resources at OCWD, Jason Dadakis is uniquely qualified to guide us all to a better understanding of PFAS occurrence in Orange County and the prospects for its removal.
OCWA Members with Reservations: FREE
Non-Members with Reservations: $10.00
The Meeting Link will be emailed
when participants Register.
Reservations must be made by end-of-day, Tuesday, June 16, to qualify for the Reservation Rate. Cancellations received AFTER this date CANNOT be refunded.