Pico Water District receives $4.3 million grant to remove ‘forever chemicals’ from water – Whittier Daily News

Pico Water District has received a $4.3 million grant from Water Replenishment District for a system to remove contaminants, commonly known as “forever chemicals,” from its drinking water,

The money will nearly cover all of the $4.8 million projected cost for equipment to add ion exchange treatment systems at three existing well sites to remove perfluorooctanoate and perfluorooctanesulfonate acid, more commonly referred to as PFOA and PFOS,  from the groundwater, ensuring all water provided to customers is below state and federal notification levels.

The new treatment facilities are expected to be operational in fall 2022.

“It’s fantastic,” Mark Grajeda, Pico Water District general manager, said of the grant. “It’s great for our customers and beneficial for the Central and West basins.

Pico Water District’s wells meet state and federal drinking water standards but just barely.

Grajeda said district wells have tested between the high 20s in parts per trillion and low 30s in parts per trillion for PFOs, where the the drinking water standard threshold is 40 parts per trillion.

The wells average between nine and 12 parts per trillion for PFOA — the threshold is 10 parts per trillion, he said.

These substances were previously used extensively in consumer products such as carpets, clothing, and nonstick cookware, and in firefighting foams, according to a release from the Pico Water District.

“We strive to provide our customers with high-quality water at affordable prices, ” members of the Board of Directors said in a joint statement. “By working together with the Water Replenishment District, we can avoid taking out costly loans to pay for these improvements.”

“The Water Replenishment District is proud to partner with the Pico Water District on this treatment project,” WRD Director Vera Robles DeWitt said. “The WRD Board of Directors is committed to supporting water providers in their efforts to provide high-quality groundwater to their customers.”

The city of Pico Rivera, which has similar contamination, is in line to receive a $2.5 million federal grant and also raised its water rates 10% annually over next five years for its own $14 million treatment system.

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