Santa Clarita water districts are near the top of a statewide list for contamination of a potentially harmful chemical, and are the highest in Los Angeles County, according to a report released Wednesday.
The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research organization, reviewed data from the EPA outlining drinking water sources contaminated with “highly toxic” chemicals called Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, according to the study.
The Santa Clarita Water Division and Valencia Water Company, both now under the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency, are the No. 8 and 11 spots, respectively, in a statewide list of 74 community water systems serving 7.5 million Californians.
“Ensuring that our water is safe to drink is a top priority for the SCV Water team. All water we serve meets state and federal water quality guidelines,” said Kathie Martin, public information officer for SCV Water. “We are proactively sampling all of our wells on a quarterly basis, to closely monitor the occurrence of PFAS across the entire system.”
What is PFAS?
PFAS is a large group of synthetic chemicals that are heat-resistant — almost indestructible — and are used to repel oil and water, according to SCV Water officials.
Their presence is pervasive throughout the environment worldwide. PFAS contamination is impacting many states across the U.S., as the chemicals were widely manufactured between 1950 and 2015.
PFAS also accumulates in animals and can enter the human food chain, according to SCV Water officials.
Although the use of PFAS compounds has largely been phased out of production, most people in the U.S. have measurable amounts of PFAS in their blood, according to the EPA.
Very low doses of PFAS chemicals in drinking water have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, reproductive and immune system harm, liver or thyroid disease and other health problems, according to the study.
In August 2019, the California State Water Resources Control Board strengthened notification requirements for chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), found in the water supply.
The board updated state guidelines to lower the current notification level from 14 parts per trillion (ppt) to 5.1 ppt for PFOA and from 13 ppt to 6.5 ppt for PFOS.
Those guidelines are the threshold for notifying the water board; a combined 70 ppt for both substances is the limit before a well is shut down.
The maximum level found in May by SCV Water was 79 ppt combined for PFOA and PFOS, according to agency officials.
The study showed the combined levels for seven PFAS chemicals is 197.5 ppt, while the state water board only requires notification for two — PFOA and PFOS.
Valencia Water Company’s area was found to be lower at 121.6 ppt for those seven chemicals, according to the study.
Both sources are under one agency, SCV Water, after the organizations merged in 2017.
SCV Water shut down a well in May of 2019 after routine testing found the water was above the guideline for the chemicals.
The Clean Up
SCV Water has taken immediate steps to address detected levels of PFAS chemicals in the groundwater, including proactive quarterly sampling water in all wells to ensure they are in line with state and federal standards, according to officials.
The water-resistant properties of PFAS make them difficult to remove from water; however, there are proven treatment options, according to SCV Water.
In July, the agency partnered with Water Quality and Treatment Solutions Inc. to begin testing of PFAS treatment methods in water sources.
In addition to testing, SCV Water is in the process of constructing a $5 million water treatment project for three agency wells next to the William S. Hart Baseball fields to restore the use of a substantial portion of the groundwater that has been impacted due to PFAS chemicals.
“We will be installing a facility that will treat up to 6,250 gallons per minute, a substantial portion of our groundwater that has been impacted by PFAS chemicals,” Martin said.
The project includes six vessels, as well as pumps, motors and equipment to be placed on the well site, according to SCV Water.
For more information on PFAS contamination in Santa Clarita, visit here.
Ed. Note: The story included data from seven PFOS chemicals, while Califonia only requires notification levels for two, PFOA and PFOS.Do you have a news tip? Call us at (661) 298-1220, or send
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