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PFAS results in pause on groundwater use

Move follows new state-mandated testing for water district

Message from the General Manager

EOCWD provides safe, reliable and high-quality drinking water meeting all state and federal standards to customers in our service area. Because we value the trust you and your family place in us as your water provider, we are writing to tell you about recent state-required monitoring which will change the source of the water we provide to you for the foreseeable future.

The California State Water Resources Control Board’s Division of Drinking Water (DDW) recently required testing by water agencies across the state for two PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) compounds in groundwater wells. At EOCWD, we currently obtain a majority of our water from our local groundwater basin, which is managed by the Orange County Water District.

PFAS are chemicals prevalent in the environment and were once commonly used in many consumer products including carpets, clothing, furniture fabrics, paper food packaging, water/stain/grease resistant materials and fire-fighting foam used at airfields.

For more information on PFAS, visit:

Wells utilized by EOCWD tested positive for both of the PFAS compounds at 22.2 and 28.2 parts per trillion, which exceeds the “notification” level established by DDW. This standard is well below the federal requirement for “response,” which is 70 parts per trillion. At the "response" level, the State recommends that the wells be taken out of service.

On the day the first test samples were taken – and even before we received the results, we decided to shut down our wells and no longer serve this water to our customers. We began using other sources to meet your drinking water needs. We took this action because we value your trust, and we wanted to ensure that you know that we will do whatever it takes to retain that trust.  The health science studies on this issue are limited and few, but there is a growing concern about these chemicals.

Water agencies throughout the nation, as well as local cities such as Fullerton, Anaheim, Orange, Santa Ana and Yorba Linda, are grappling with this issue that has arisen largely in just the past six months. California has adopted the strictest standards for PFAS in the nation, but unfortunately, the science on how to best remove these contaminants lags the regulations.

Your water is safe to drink. But your thoughts will also naturally turn to, “How much will a fix cost?” That is a fair question. The water supply that we have had to turn to is imported water – this water costs two times what our local groundwater supply costs. 

Our Board of Directors has asked the staff to work within our existing budget to absorb as much of these costs as we can, and to defer all non-essential operating and capital projects. Because of this action, we will live within the planned rate increase that is scheduled for February 2020.

We are working with the Orange County Water District, the agency that is responsible for the water quality of the groundwater basin, to determine what we can do to fix this problem. The solution will probably involve a water treatment process that will need to be designed and constructed near our wells. By this fall, we hope to have a better sense of what that system might be. We are encouraged that universities and the private sector are marshalling their resources to help solve this mammoth problem.

Please do not hesitate to call me, or our District Engineer Jeff Smyth, at 714-538-5815 if you have any questions about this issue. We will keep you updated as concrete information develops.

Click here to view our fact sheet: PFAS Facts


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