State health department provides resources to local communities to test water
For immediate release: Jan. 8, 2020
Contact: MaryAnn Nason, 303-692-6351, MaryAnn.Nason@state.co.us
DENVER: The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment now has additional resources available for public drinking water system operators to test for persistent chemicals that originate from toxic firefighting foam and other sources. The department secured $500,000 in supplemental funding from the state legislature. Public water system operators can apply for funding through Jan. 29, 2020.
The pervasive chemicals, known scientifically as per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), can cause adverse health impacts if consumed.
At present, the department is not aware of any public water systems with the chemicals above the federal health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion. In the past, public water system providers that found the chemicals acted swiftly with state and local assistance to reduce or eliminate the chemicals. Since 2012, 94 public water systems in Colorado have been tested for the chemicals.
“We want public water system providers and communities to know that we are here for them. This free testing will provide communities with more information about the water upon which they rely,” said John Putnam, environmental programs director, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “If we find the chemical anywhere, we’ll be there to provide technical assistance to lower the levels as quickly as possible.”
Public water system providers can either collect samples independently, or ask for help from the department if needed. The results will be publicly available. If testing shows high levels, the department will work with the water system to promptly notify the public and identify options to reduce exposure.
The sampling project is a critical component of an overarching state action plan that the department is implementing to first locate, then mitigate, these chemicals. The department is also undergoing a public process to develop policy guidance for per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to implement the state’s narrative standards for groundwater and surface water, in the absence of a federal standard. The public and stakeholders are welcomed to weigh in.