In response to some recent news articles that, although understandably concerning, were also a bit sensational/misleading in their wording, we want to reiterate the exceptional status of Durham’s drinking water quality, and explain ongoing efforts at local and state levels regarding perfluoroalkyl substances, also known as (and much easier to say) PFASs.
The EPA has written recommendations for these chemicals, and the State of North Carolina and municipalities including Durham are aware of and responding to this information. These updates and monitoring requirements were reflected in the EPA’s UCMR 3 (Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule). Details can be found here: https://www.epa.gov/dwucmr/third-unregulated-contaminant-monitoring-rule. Durham’s Department of Water Management conducted UCMR 3 monitoring in 2013 and the results were included in our 2013 Annual Water Quality Reported (see link below). There were no detections found for any of the six PFAS compounds listed in UCMR 3.
As the majority of these recent articles mentioned, industrial and military sites account for many of the highest PFAS readings. Researchers have stated that perfluorinated compound hits likely resulted due to the presence of such sites at or near the testing points. Areas of PFAS hits noted on maps for North Carolina were at sites further downstream from Durham/Durham County, in the Cape Fear Basin. Here at our local level, we’re happy to report that no industrial or wastewater discharge enters Durham’s drinking water supply, nor our community’s larger watershed. Future monitoring may be highlighted in upcoming UCMR editions, which can be accessed through the link provided above.
Because the State is responsible for regulations, please contact the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality at http://deq.nc.gov/ for more questions. A helpful PFAS factsheet from the EPA can be found by visiting https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-06/documents/drinkingwaterhealthadvisories_pfoa_pfos_updated_5.31.16.pdf. Also, you are encouraged to bookmark Durham’s annual Water Quality Report, and to follow Water Management on Facebook and Twitter for more information about what we’re doing to ensure our residents and businesses always have access to the highest quality water possible.