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The Borough engineer has been working since June to design a treatment system that will remove PFOA and PFOS from the drinking water
Bidding for construction of the treatment system will occur in March after completion of the design specifications, but must await approval of a permit by the DEP whose review of the permit application is ongoing.
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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.
Although a bid for construction of the system is expected to be awarded by April of 2022, the current estimated timeframe for delivery of the necessary equipment is 55 weeks from the order date, which will likely push completion of the installation into mid-2023. DEP is has notified the Borough that we only have until August 25, 2022,to be in compliance (which means having the treatment system operational), The Borough still has not received DEP approval of the required permit, and the aforementioned estimated delivery schedule for the equipment makes this date totally unrealistic..
The Borough Engineer’s current estimate (prior to completion of the design) on the cost of construction on a treatment system is somewhere in the vicinity of $5 million.
The actual cost will be obtained through public bidding.
The system will also increase annual operating costs due to periodic replacement of media in the filters.
The Borough has applied to the State of New Jersey for a low interest loan to reduce the debt service costs for money borrowed to building this treatment system.
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.
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 will need to raise its water rates, as soon as 2023, to repay any bonds or low-interest loans used for the construction of the treatment system, as well as the operating costs of this system. The amount of that rate increase won't be known until after the final construction costs are known along with the interest rates for any borrowed funds.