Information on PFOA for Classic Heights customers

Washington Water recently tested both active wells in our Classic Heights system for PFAS. These substances are not currently regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; however, Washington has a “State Action Level” for certain PFAS substances. If the SAL is ever exceeded, we will notify customers so you are aware.

Through our rigorous monitoring and testing process, we found that one of the two groundwater wells serving Classic Heights customers had levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)—one of the substances in the PFAS family—at 11.7 parts per trillion (ppt), which slightly exceeds the SAL of 10 ppt for PFOA. Detections in the other well remain below the SAL. While both wells are needed to meet customer demand and provide fire protection, we have changed the quantity of water drawn from each well, so that the levels of PFAS throughout the water system can be reduced to the lowest possible level when both wells are in use.

While we did not cause the PFAS to be in the groundwater, we are committed to appropriately treating and removing it from the water we serve.

What are we doing about it?

  • The supply of water from both wells is needed to meet the daily demand of our customers and to meet fire flow. It is not possible to take either well offline; however, we are now drawing 90% of the water supplying the water system from well S04 that is below the SAL and are currently limiting the water drawn from well S01 to 10%.  We are making these changes to reduce customer exposure to PFOA.
  • We will continue to test our water for PFAS, as required.
  • We have started the process of assessing treatment options that is intended to, long-term, remove all PFAS from the water system. Funding, design and installation of treatment can take several years.
  • We are informing you of these test results and subsequent actions so that you are aware of not only this issue, but also the steps we are taking to resolve it. While we did not cause the PFAS to be in the groundwater, we are committed to appropriately treating for them and removing them from in water we serve.
  • We support the EPA’s establishment of a national drinking water standard for these PFAS compounds. After the final EPA standards are established, which will likely occur in 2024, the EPA is providing a three-year implementation period, because potential effects for PFAS are based on lifetime exposure and not acute risk.
  • We are pursuing legal action against PFAS manufacturers to hold them responsible for the costs to remove these constituents from water, in order to reduce the financial impact of treatment for our customers.
  • We are continuing to work closely with the Washington State Department of Health.

What should you do?

There is nothing required of you at this time.  The operational changes we’ve already implemented are expected to reduce the presence of PFOA or other PFAS substances. The Washington Department of Health recommends:

We will keep you updated of any new developments and remain committed to protecting our customers’ health and safety. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us toll-free at (888) 490-3741 or via email at [email protected].