Efforts ramp up to protect consumers from “forever chemicals” in water sources
The Eagle River Water & Sanitation District and the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority are committed to providing safe, reliable, and affordable drinking water to customers from Vail through Edwards. As part of this commitment, the district and authority have been voluntarily testing drinking water for a group of unregulated chemicals of growing concern known as PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).
PFAS are a group of more than 5,000 man-made chemicals. They have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s due to their ability to resist oil and water and withstand extreme temperatures. They are found in products including ski wax, nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant textiles, cosmetics, and firefighting foams. Direct exposure can occur when using products made with PFAS, but these chemicals also get into water, soil, air, and food during production and use, and do not break down over time.
In 2022 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set new lower lifetime health advisories for four PFAS compounds in drinking water. A health advisory is intended to raise awareness, provide guidance, and foster local and state response before the EPA develops a regulation. It is a level, or minimum concentration, at which negative health effects may occur over a lifetime of exposure. District and authority water sample results received in January 2023 showed that two PFAS compounds are present in some drinking water sources above the new health advisory levels.
All district and authority water customers received a notice detailing the most recent PFAS testing results that also includes information about PFAS and health advisory levels, actions to reduce exposure, and actions the district and authority are taking to address PFAS concerns. The notice can be accessed in English and Spanish on the district’s website at erwsd.org.
The district and authority understand the concern this information may cause consumers and are making resources available to help consumers make educated decisions. The district and authority are treating this information with urgency and partnering with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to monitor PFAS levels and assess emerging treatment methods to reduce PFAS levels in drinking water. Conventional water treatment methods do not remove PFAS compounds, but there are ways consumers can lower their exposure at home. Use of an in-home water filter that is certified to lower the levels of PFAS, or using water treated with reverse osmosis, which removes PFAS, will reduce exposure.
The district and authority’s drinking water has and continues to meet all federal and state Primary Drinking Water Standards. For additional information regarding PFAS in drinking water and health information, visit http://cdphe.colorado.gov/pfas-health or http://www.epa.gov/pfas. For more information contact district customer service at 970-477-5451.