Cal Water’s Leadership on PFAS

There have been quite a few recent news reports about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (broadly referred to as PFAS) and how they affect water quality. With all of the attention, we wanted to provide additional background information about PFAS and, more importantly, what we at Cal Water are doing to protect our customers’ health and safety.

What is PFAS?

PFAS are found in a number of products including waterproofing compounds, stainproofing compounds, paper and cloth coatings, and waxes. They’re also in foam used to fight fires, which is one way PFAS have found their way into the groundwater in some areas.

Cal Water’s Commitment to Protecting Health & Safety

Protecting our customers’ health and safety is our absolute highest priority. Through our rigorous water quality assurance program, we ensure that the drinking water we deliver to our customers complies with all state and federal water quality standards.

Monitoring & Testing for PFAS

Cal Water has been monitoring and testing for PFAS. We have focused on areas where there was a higher likelihood of the compounds being used in the past, such as areas around military bases, airports, and industrial facilities. We’ve shared our test results with regulators at the state and federal level to help them gain a better understanding of the how PFAS has impacted water supplies.

We have tested more than 430 of our water supply sources for PFAS. In about 3% of those cases, we needed to take additional steps to safeguard our customers. From removing water supply sources from service to constructing new water treatment facilities, we have worked diligently to ensure the safety of the drinking water we provide to our customers. We will continue implementing a rigorous testing and monitoring regimen, and taking action where needed to protect the health and safety of our customers.

Holding Polluters Responsible

Safeguarding our customers also means protecting them against having to pay to clean up pollution. To this end, Cal Water has filed a lawsuit against a group of companies that manufactured and sold firefighting foam products that released PFAS into the environment, to ensure the responsible parties — not our customers — bear the costs of making sure the water is safe to drink.

Pursuing a Comprehensive Solution

A comprehensive solution is needed to effectively address the public health concerns regarding PFAS. That is why Cal Water is strongly supporting transparent and decisive action by both the state and federal governments. For example, we have:

  • Encouraged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to establish a national primary drinking water regulation for PFOS and PFOA, two of the more common members of the PFAS family.
  • Voiced our strong support for California State Senator Ben Allen’s Senate Bill 1044, which will help protect the State’s drinking water supplies against contamination by prohibiting the sale and use of certain products that contain PFAS.
  • Urged the California Legislature to pass State Senator Portantino and Gonzalez’s Senate Bill 1056, which will help residents better understand the full extent of PFAS contamination by requiring the certification of accurate methods to test for PFAS based on the best available science.

Together, these steps will not only address a growing public health concern over PFAS, but also help reassure communities about the safety of their drinking water.

Conclusion

We want our customers to know as much as possible about their local water supply and our continuous efforts to ensure safe drinking water. Water quality reports for all our districts are available to the public and can be accessed online.