PFAS and Unregulated Contaminants

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are man-made chemicals that have been used in items like cooking utensils, popcorn bags, and fire retardants since the 1950’s. When the chemicals are not disposed of properly, they can end up in the environment, our homes, and water sources.

New EPA regulations

  • In April of 2024, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the first-ever national standards to limit PFAS in drinking water. The maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) permissible for six PFAS compounds are extremely low levels. (Learn more here)
  • EPWater places the highest importance on the health of our community and providing safe drinking water. We are following research about treatment methods that will be needed if we do encounter PFAS at regulated levels.
  • Although the new PFAS regulatory standards will not take effect for several years, we are preparing to meet those standards now by sampling and monitoring our drinking water for the compounds.
  • The good news is many of the effective treatment methods for PFAS are already used in certain EPWater treatment facilities, though treatment systems can be very expensive to add to areas where they are not in place.

Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR)

As part of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA asks public utilities to monitor so-called “unregulated contaminants” every five years.

  • EPWater and approximately 6,000 other water utilities are monitoring for PFAS and other unregulated compounds in accordance with the EPA's fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR5).
  • Sample collection started in 2023 and will continue through early 2025.
  • Samples are taken from wells in the EPWater system along with treated water from river water treatment plants.
  • A third party-lab is doing the analysis. Preliminary results show that PFAS has been detected in a few locations in El Paso but at levels that are generally below the proposed regulatory thresholds.

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