Drinking water sources across the United States are finding emerging contaminants such as PFOS and PFOA above the USEPA and individual state health advisory levels. Sources of PFAS include industrial and commercial products such as non-stick cookware, non-stain fabrics, water repellent coatings, fast-food packaging and firefighting foams. These contaminants are highly stable, environmentally persistent and pose a risk for potential adverse health effects.

Our Emerging Contaminants Team has been working on these issues and the implications to our clients for the past five years, presenting on the potential impacts of PFAS to drinking water supplies, the wastewater industry, and landfills at numerous conferences throughout the country. Weston & Sampson has been working with New England State Regulators investigating PFAS and helping to develop sampling and testing protocols for soil, groundwater, and biosolids since 2015. This is a rapidly evolving issue with many changes in state regulations, sampling requirements and analytical methods. These changes are having an impact on the management of sludge, landfills, and water supplies.

Our team of PFAS-experienced scientists and engineers are available to help you navigate this complex issue. We can help you understand sources of PFAS, their fate and transport, toxicity, treatment options, and rapidly evolving regulations, as well as help manage wastewater residuals.

Water Supply

Weston & Sampson has worked with a number of municipalities to address PFAS in their water supplies.

  • The City of Portsmouth, NH selected Weston & Sampson to pilot, design, and provide construction services for a new water treatment plant. The facility was designed to provide treatment for the removal PFAS for Portsmouth’s Harrison, Haven, and Smith Wells. During pilot testing, we determined that ion exchange resin significantly outperformed granular activated carbon (GAC). Our treatment system is in operation providing PFAS-free water to the city.
  • Weston & Sampson also provided emergency engineering treatment system design and construction services at public supply wells at a former Army base and current Economic Development Zone in Central Massachusetts.

Environmental Sampling

  • Weston & Sampson sampled over 350 private drinking water wells in North Bennington and Pownal, VT that are impacted by PFAS. This work was performed on behalf of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. The impacts to the wells were from nearby specialty fabrics and wire coating manufacturing.
  • Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) hired Weston & Sampson to evaluate PFAS impacts to private wells in northwestern Rhode Island. We created a database of property owner and tenant contacts, well information, and PFAS results to create a GIS database. We also presented the data to the public at a community meeting. Following the initial response action, we implemented a comprehensive site investigation plan to identify the PFAS source.

Wastewater Impacts

The presence of PFAS in wastewater effluent, landfill leachate, and dewatered sludge and biosolids is a rapidly evolving issue which has led to many questions for municipalities, sewerage districts, receivers of leachate, and regulators alike. The introduction of stringent groundwater and surface water standards has resulted in wastewater treatment facilities ceasing to accept landfill leachate, landfills have stopped receiving dewatered sludge, and the land application of biosolids is under scrutiny. Sludge disposal costs have spiked in some communities and is expressly prohibited in others.

In many cases, water quality standards for PFAS may result in new NPDES permit limits, particularly at plants with low dilution factors, and at groundwater discharge facilities. Our extensive PFAS sampling, analysis, and treatment experience, coupled with our experience in wastewater treatment and biosolids management is a benefit to you. Let us partner with you to find solutions to manage your wastewater systems.

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