Oakwood to begin testing its water for PFAS chemicals

Published: Sunday, May 19, 2019 @ 12:00 AM

Despite closing water wells that showed Polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS), city's drinking water continues to test positive for the chemicals in parts per trillion

The city of Oakwood is going to test its own water for chemicals that have been found in trace amounts in neighboring water systems.

This year, Oakwood water officials say they will begin testing the city’s water for PFAS chemicals, a chemical recently found in trace and safe amounts in the city of Dayton water system.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — known as PFAS — are a group of man-made chemicals that include different types of substances including PFOA, PFOS, GenX and others.

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PFAS can be found in some firefighting foams, household products like water-repellent fabrics, nonstick products like Teflon, waxes, polishes, and food packaging, according to the EPA.

PFAS contaminants have been found in parts of the city of Dayton water supply and are suspected to be leaching into the aquifer used to supply Dayton’s water system from firefighting foams used at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

“The EPA does not require PFAS testing. Oakwood has not tested for it historically, but will test for PFAS in 2019, just as a safety precaution,” Oakwood Water Superintendent Gary Dursch told the city council at a meeting this week.

One Oakwood resident expressed concern to city officials regarding the chemicals because Dayton’s water system is now testing for PFAS and Oakwood occasionally buys water from Dayton for some of its supply.

Oakwood officials say the city’s water is safe and water purchased from Dayton is used in case of an emergency.

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Oakwood’s Drinking Water Consumer Confidence Report was released in April and revealed the city owns and operates a public municipal water system that is comprised of 8 production wells, 3 water treatment plants, 44 miles of underground water lines, 345 fire hydrants and a 1.5 million gallon water tower.

The city has two reserve water connections with the city of Dayton and one with Montgomery County. During 2018, Oakwood produced 486.173 million gallons from its eight water wells and purchased 1.816 million gallons from the city of Dayton, less than half of 1 percent of all the water Oakwood produced. In several recent years, Oakwood purchased no water from outside sources.

Oakwood resident Matthew Currie told city council this week that after reading a copy of the Oakwood water report, he wanted to know more about the PFAS testing with Dayton’s water and how that might impact Oakwood residents.

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“I read the report and noticed that sometimes the city of Oakwood buys drinking water from the city of Dayton,” he said.

PFAS chemical compounds turned up in March at Dayton’s Ottawa Water Treatment Plant, the first time the compounds were detected in water after the treatment process. The chemicals have also been found in part of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s water supply. The chemicals are currently considered safe by the U.S. EPA when below 70 ppt for lifetime exposure.

Dursch said a purchase agreement is in place, but Oakwood has bought little water from Dayton for several years and continues to produce its own.

“Oakwood produces its own water, but has an emergency tie-in agreement with the city of Dayton,” Dursch explained. “All public water systems are required by the EPA to have contingency plans in place with another supplier as needed for emergencies or maintenance.”

He added, “our agreement allows us to obtain water from Dayton in those relatively rare situations.”

Newly introduced legislation in Congress would require the EPA to designate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances as hazardous substances within one year under the Superfund law. Currently, the chemicals are not declared hazardous substances and there is little federal or state oversight for the contaminants.