Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are not yet regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act or other major U.S. environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. However, the Washington State Board of Health completed rule-making to regulate PFAS in Group A drinking water systems. The rule sets State Action Levels (SALs) for 5 PFAS, and requires monitoring, record-keeping and reporting, follow-up actions, and other associated requirements for PFAS.
In late January 2020, KPUD was notified that the U.S. Navy would be testing groundwater wells around Naval Base Kitsap – Bangor for the presence of 18 different PFAS compounds.
PFAS is an umbrella term for a class of manmade chemicals used in a wide range of products including cookware, upholstery, and fast-food packaging. PFAS compounds are also used in firefighting foams that have been used on military bases.
There have been documented cases where PFAS from these firefighting foams have infiltrated into local aquifers. KPUD has one well in the Navy’s study area, which serves our Avellana water system and another just outside the study area that serves our Brianwood water system. In February 2020, KPUD investigated and sampled both of these wells. The results detected trace amounts of four PFAS compounds at concentrations below both Washington State action levels and EPA health advisory levels at the time. Testing in 2022 resulted in no detection of the presence of compounds in either well.
PFAS testing in 2022 and 2023 indicate zero presence of PFAS in the 60 sources of the 28 KPUD-owned Group A systems.
No Detection: KPUD PFAS Testing
In 2022, KPUD took advantage of Washington State Department of Health’s free-PFAS sample program for Group A community water systems. This program provided KPUD the opportunity to test all 60 sources of our 28 KPUD-owned Group A water systems at no cost to the utility. Testing is now complete, and the results showed no detection of PFAS in these KPUD water systems.
These results count toward state-required compliance monitoring scheduled for 2023-2025. Water samples were tested for 25 different per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) compounds including six specific compounds (perfluorooctanoic acid [PFOA], perfluorooctane sulfonic acid [PFOS], perfluorononanoic acid [PFNA], hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid [HFPO-DA, commonly known as GenX Chemicals], perfluorohexane sulfonic acid [PFHxS], and perfluorobutane sulfonic acid [PFBS]) that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to regulate.
KPUD’s drinking water remains safe and protected from contaminants. We closely monitor drinking water regulations to ensure that we take actions necessary to protect our customers from the health risks of these chemicals. Per Washington State Department of Health requirements, KPUD will conduct PFAS sampling again spanning the three-year period 2026 – 2028.
KPUD owns 28 Group A water systems and manages an additional 15. Managed water systems are tested regularly, and results are provided to system owners. Group B water systems (less than 15 connections) are not required to be tested for PFAS.
EPA Health Advisory Update & Proposed Regulations
On June 15, 2022, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced updated lifetime health advisories for four PFAS compounds in drinking water. A lifetime health advisory identifies the level of a contaminant in drinking water that would protect all people from adverse health effects from a lifetime exposure to PFAS in drinking water. The EPA calculates health advisory levels including a margin of safety and to account for sensitive populations. For these reasons, health advisory levels may be set very low.
Although EPA health advisory are non-enforceable, non-regulatory levels, the EPA is expected to publish enforceable national drinking water standards for PFAS by the end of 2022. KPUD will be testing these wells and keeping users informed of any changes.
UPDATE: On March 14, 2023, the EPA released proposed drinking water regulations for six PFAS. The proposed regulations do not require any actions until finalized. EPA anticipates finalizing the regulation by the end of 2023. After adoption of the regulations, water systems would have three years to comply.
Where to Get More Information
Washington State Department of Heath
- PFAS in Drinking Water—Monitoring and Analysis
- DOH FAQs for EPA’s Proposed Regulations, March 15, 2023 (PDF)
Environmental Protection Agency
Bangor PFAS Investigation
On January 23rd, 2020, the U.S. Navy notified Kitsap PUD of an upcoming groundwater study they will be conducting in the area around Naval Base Kitsap Bangor. To read more, please click the links below.