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Learn About PFAS
Safe Drinking Water
Protecting public health and providing our customers a safe water supply is the City of Moses Lake’s top priority, and we currently meet all federal and state requirements for water quality testing. On average, we deliver 3 billion gallons per year of clean and safe drinking water to more than 11,000 service connections in an approximately 7 square mile service area.
Moses Lake, like many communities in Washington and across the nation, is addressing an emerging issue with per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances. In recognition of this, Moses Lake proactively tested PFAS levels in spring 2023, and will test again later this year..
We will continue to share updates and information about PFAS so that you can make informed decisions.
Since the 1940s, PFAS have been used around the world in industry and in consumer products such as food packaging, non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing, stain-resistant fabrics, and firefighting foam. These synthetic chemicals can enter the environment and water supplies from multiple sources and do not break down easily, making them harmful to people and the environment.
The levels of PFAS found in Moses Lake’s water supply are near or slightly above recommended limits in state and federal guidance. The recommended limits are based on long-term exposure to PFAS throughout a person’s life and represent a conservative level at which no adverse impacts are expected over a lifetime of drinking the water, even in health-sensitive populations.
This spring, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released proposed drinking water standards that regulate levels of PFAS in drinking water. EPA plans to adopt these standards as early as Fall 2023.
Public Health Resources
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Washington State Department of Health
- Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
- Washington State Department of Ecology
PFAS are present in many everyday household materials including non-stick cookware, food packaging, clothing, and furniture. Minimizing exposure to PFAS will require ongoing reductions of sources of PFAS in our daily environment. If you are concerned about potential health effects from exposure to PFAS, please contact your doctor or health care professional.
City Actions to Protect Water Quality
The City and a team of consultants are developing an action plan to evaluate other water sources and conservation actions.
Work underway includes:
- Testing the water supply: Water Division staff continue to test and monitor water quality in compliance with state and federal requirements to ensure a safe water supply.
- Evaluating treatment options: Water quality engineers are evaluating treatment technologies to remove PFAS from the water supply.
- Finding long-term solutions: Expert scientists are investigating potential sources of PFAS and the extent of PFAS in the local groundwater supply.
- Planning for the future: City staff is currently building estimates of future costs for PFAS treatment for inclusion in future City budgets and long-range capital plans.
- Reducing costs: The City is pursuing state and federal grants and loans to reduce the impact to ratepayers.
- Sharing information: Up-to-date information on PFAS and test results will be shared with all customers and the public so you can make informed decisions.
Evolving Science and Regulations
There are thousands of types of PFAS, and public health agencies and scientists are still studying how long-term exposure to PFAS may affect people’s health. As reported by the EPA, current scientific research suggests that exposure to high levels of certain PFAS may lead to adverse health outcomes.
There is a lot that we do not yet know but as the science evolves so do our drinking water standards.
- In 2021, the Washington State Board of Health adopted new State Action Levels for PFAS in drinking water that set conservative levels at which experts say no adverse effects are expected over a lifetime of drinking the water, even in sensitive populations. The state also requires additional sampling when results are above the State Action Level. The State Action Level does not establish a requirement for PFAS treatment at this time.
- In 2023, EPA proposed a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for six types of PFAS known to occur in drinking water. The proposed rule does not require any action until finalized, but if approved would set enforceable levels of PFAS in drinking water and require public water systems to monitor for these PFAS, notify the public of the levels of these PFAS, and reduce the levels of these PFAS in drinking water if they exceed the proposed standards.
Sharing Information with the Public
The City is committed to keeping the community informed. We will continue to share actions the City is taking to keep your water save and provide updates as we learn more about treatment options and receive updates from federal and state authorities. Timely information and PFAS sampling results will be posted here on the City's website. The annual Water Quality Report is another way you can learn about the quality of the City’s water and PFAS updates.