Cal Water has completed construction of a treatment plant to eliminate perfluoroctanesulfonic acid, commonly known as PFOS, at a well in its station on Feather River Boulevard in Oroville, Calif. The new treatment facility enables the utility to return the well—which has been offline—to service, increasing water supplies and reliability while ensuring Oroville District customers have high-quality water for their everyday and emergency needs.
The treatment plant can treat up to one million gallons of groundwater per day to supplement the current water supply.
While there is no state or federal maximum contaminant level yet for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances—broadly referred to as PFAS compounds—including PFOS and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), because these are contaminants of emerging concern, Cal Water proactively tested all of its water sources across the company in 2019. At that time, the well met state response level guidelines for both PFOS and PFOA. When that level was lowered in February 2020, Cal Water discontinued use of the well due to the PFOS levels.
Cal Water has filed a lawsuit against a group of companies that manufactured and sold firefighting foam products that released PFOS and PFOA into the environment, to ensure the responsible parties—not Cal Water customers—bear the costs of treatment. Cal Water also actively supports legislation that will increase regulation, transparency, testing, and monitoring of PFAS compounds.
“Customers can rest assured that they continue to have a reliable supply of drinking water that meets every single state and federal standard, including for PFOS and PFOA when they are established,” said Operations Manager Loni Lind. “By bringing this well back online, we are able to utilize more available groundwater, which makes us less dependent on purchased water and helps us provide quality, service, and value to our Oroville customers.”
PFOS and PFOA are human-made compounds that have been used in fire-fighting foam as well as in the manufacturing of carpets, clothing, fabrics for furniture, paper packaging for food, and other materials (e.g., cookware) that are resistant to water, grease, or stains.