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PFOA and PFOS do not occur naturally. They are man-made chemicals that have been used to make carpets, clothing, fabric for furniture, paper packaging for food, and other materials (such as non-stick cookware) that are resistant to water, grease or stains. They are also used for firefighting at airfields and in a number of industrial processes. Through one means or another, they have penetrated into the deep underground aquifer from which Hawthorne draws its water, most likely from industrial discharges
In 2020 the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) set new limits on PFOA and PFOS in drinking water (limits that are well below the current federal health advisory levels). With regular testing required starting in 2021. The water itself has not changed.
The DEP “maximum contaminant level” for PFOA is 14 nanograms per liter (= parts per trillion)
The DEP “maximum contaminant level” for PFOS is 13 nanograms per liter (= parts per trillion)
These levels are significantly less than the federal EPA “health advisory level” of 70 nanograms per liter (parts per trillion), either individually or combined.
DEP has said that neither PFOA nor PFOS is deemed an acute contaminant, and the notice issued by the DEP is NOT deemed a “do not drink” order.
The DEP limits appear to have been established due to an abundance of caution and a concern about consumption of water over a lifetime
Hawthorne’s water has concentrations of PFOS and PFOA well below the current federal advisory levels of 70 parts per trillion
According to the DEP, some people who drink water containing PFOA or PFOS in excess of the MCL over many years could experience problems with their blood serum cholesterol levels, liver, kidney, immune system, or, in males, reproductive system. Drinking water containing PFOA in excess of the MCL over many years may also increase the risk of testicular and kidney cancer. For females, drinking water containing PFOA or PFOS in excess of the MCL over many years may cause developmental delays in a fetus and/or an infant.
More information on PFAS in drinking water can be found in the New Jersey Department of Health's drinking water facts on the subject.
If you have specific health concerns, consult your doctor.
If you have a severely compromised immune system, have an infant, are pregnant, or are elderly, you may be at increased risk and should seek advice from your health care providers about drinking this water.
The New Jersey Department of Health advises that bottle-fed babies should have formula prepared with bottled water, and that pregnant women, nursing women and women considering having a child should use bottled water or a home filter. Individuals who wish to reduce exposure to PFAS while the water utility is taking action to reduce levels can also consider switching to bottled or home-filtered water.
Water treatment devices utilizing granular or powdered activated carbon filters, reverse osmosis, ion exchange resins and other specialized treatment media are technologies that can reduce the level of PFAS in drinking water. If a water treatment device is used, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance and operation. NSF International, an independent and accredited organization, certifies products proven effective for reducing PFOA and PFOS below the EPA Lifetime Health Advisory level (70 ppt), but these products are not certified for removal to the lower NJ MCLs of 14 and 13 ppt. Some studies have demonstrated up to 50% removal of PFAS when using either pitcher or refrigerator filters. (Bold and italicized is New statements by NJDOH)
No, boiling water does not remove PFOA or PFOS.
The Borough engineer gean in June, 2021, to design a treatment system that will remove PFOA and PFOS from the drinking water, after which the Borough applied in November, 2021, to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection for a permit to install the system. The DEP didn't issue this permit until Aprril, 2022. At that time, the DEP sontinued revioew of the plans on behalf of the New Jersey Infrasturcture Bank, to whom the Borough had applied for low-cost financing for the project. The DEP and the DEP didn't give authorization to bid the project until October of 2022. The Borough received bids in November, and awarded the construction contract at a specail Council meeting on 11/21/2022.
Although a bid for construction of the system was awarded on Novvember 21, 2022, the current estimated timeframe for delivery of the necessary equipment is 30 weeks from the order date, which will likely push completion of the installation toward the end of 2023..
DEP had notified the Borough that we only had only until August 25, 2022,to be in compliance (which means having the treatment system operational), The time for design of the system and then protected review of a permit application byt the DEP (5 months) and then further DEP review of low-cost funding spplication to the New Jersye Infrastructure bank (6 months), and finally the delivery time for the eqipment made that completion date totally unrealistic..
The construction contract awarded by the Borough for this project is $5,320,000. Engineering design and inspection services add $1,017,000 to this cost .
The system will also increase annual operating costs due to periodic replacement of media in the filters.
The Borough applied to the New Jersey Infrastructure Bank for a low interest loan to reduce the debt service costs for money borrowed to building this treatment system. This application was approved. The [package includes $1 million in principal forgiveness as well as lowinterest borrowing.
The Borough Council on 12/1/2021 approved Resolution R-164-21 which authorized the hiring of Litigation Counsel to bring legal action against the manufacturers of PFOA and PFOS to recover all or a portion of the cost of the treatment process. This litigation is ongoing.
Any residual cost of the treatment system - whatever is not covered by the low-interest loans or recovery from the lawsuit - will be funded by the issuance of bonds.
The Borough has adopted a rate increase of 13% for 2023 and anotehr 13% increase for 2024 as the first step toward covering the project costs. It is expected that another substantial rate increase wil be required in 2025 to pay for the debt service on the loans as well as the operating costs of this system.