Commissioner Bacon’s newsletter discusses PFAS

…I want to share with you … a meeting to discuss PFAS in our drinking water, with John Lovie, president of the Whidbey Island Water Systems Associations; Keith Higman, Island County Public Health Director; and Heather Korteum, Island County Environmental Health Manager.

  • On June 15th the EPA announced new Lifetime Health Advisories (LHAs) for per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) which in some cases are over 10,000 times lower than the LHA numbers we have been working with in the water systems and private wells around the Navy facilities on Whidbey Island. This means that levels we thought were safe are now deemed to be above the health advisory limits.
  • In the wake of the discovery of PFAS around our Navy facilities and elsewhere in the state, the State Department of Health Office of Drinking Water (ODW) offered voluntary testing to Group A water systems. In Island County, King Water and Water and Wastewater Services volunteered the systems they manage, and ODW sampled most of these. These results are now in. Of the 122 systems sampled in Island County, 12, or about 10%, show detections. Of these twelve, three exceeded the new LHAs and one exceeded the old LHAs and was above the State Action Limits (SALs). Many water systems in Island County were not tested, so we should expect there may be other water systems exceeding the new advisory limits for lifetime exposure to PFAS.
  • PFAS are not limited to areas around the Navy. Most PFAS in drinking water are considered to come from firefighting foam.
  • Mandatory testing of Group A water systems will begin to roll-out in Washington in January 2023. They are still waiting for EPA rule-making. NOTE: Group A water systems are defined as those which have 15 or more service connections or serve 25 or more people 60 or more days per year.
  • Ultimately, resolution of the problem will need to be addressed at each water system.
  • But in the meantime, if you’re concerned about your drinking water at your home, I encourage you to identify at least one fixture in your house to designate for drinking water and install an under-the-counter or a countertop reverse osmosis system. NOTE: I googled “reverse osmosis systems”, and many of the products that showed up are not, in fact, reverse osmosis systems. I guess many water filter products that are not reverse osmosis will include the term “reverse osmosis” in their hypertext so that they pop up in searches. But a regular (cheap) water filter system will not capture PFAS. So pay attention to make sure what you buy will handle these substances. For assistance in finding the right product, try here:
  • For more information: and
  • I will of course keep you informed as I know more. But one thing we can all do now: let the state legislature know you want them to make money available for testing for Group B and private wells too, not just for Group A wells. Not all Island County residents get their water from big water systems. Well testing costs around $600 per well.

Saltwater Intrusion, a “Slow Poison” to East Coast Drinking Water

Saltwater Intrusion, a “Slow Poison” to East Coast Drinking Water – Circle of Blue

Saltwater intrusion refers to the landward movement of seawater into freshwater systems. It’s a game of density: saltwater is denser than freshwater, so it remains underneath the freshwater in water tables. When the freshwater volume decreases, saltwater begins to take its place. Mixing then occurs, contaminating the whole supply. At high concentrations of salt in drinking water, people can develop hypertension, which exacerbates pre-existing health conditions and puts the elderly at higher risk of stroke.

EPA Warns of Health Problems When PFAS Levels in Drinking Water Are Inconceivably Tiny

“For members of the general public who are attuned to drinking water contaminants, the EPA announcement is raising concerns, according to John Lovie, president of the Whidbey Island Water Systems Association. Located in Washington state, the association counts about 100 water systems as members, which range in size from several thousand customers to just three or four.”