ECCV Water Quality Testing (2022)
Sustaining Our Community By Providing Safe, Reliable Water.
The sources of drinking water (both tap water and bottled water) include rivers, lakes, streams, ponds, reservoirs, springs and wells. As water travels over the surface of the land or through the ground, it dissolves naturally-occuring minerals and, in some cases, radioactive material, and can pick up substances resulting from the presence of animals or from human activity.
- Microbial contaminants, such as viruses and bacteria: These may come from wastewater treatment facilities, septic systems, agricultural and/or livestock operations and wildlife.
- Inorganic contaminants, such as salts and metals: These can be naturally-occuring, or result from urban storm water runoff, industrial or domestic waster water dischages, oil and gas production, mining or farming.
- Pesticides and herbicides, which may originate from a veriety of sources, such as: agriculture, urban storm-water runoff and residential uses.
- Organic chemical contaminants (including synthetic and volatile organic chemicals): These are byproducts of industrial processes and petroleum productrion. They may also come from gas stations, urban storm-water runoff, and septic systems.
- Radioactive contaminants: These can be naturally-occuring or the result of oil and gas production and mining activities.
ECCV ensures that your tap water is safe to drink by adhering to EPA regulations that limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. The Food and Drug Administration regulates limits for contaminants in bottled water that must provide the same protection for public health.
ECCV’s annual average of water hardness is approximately 100 parts per million (ppm). “Hardness” in drinking water is caused by two minerals: calcium and magnesium, both of which dissolve naturally. Hard water is safe to drink, but it can have undesired effects on cleaning and bathing. Soaps and detergents lather less in hard water. In addition, hard water can form a residue when combined with detergents, which can stay behind on dishes and laundry. Hard water can also form “scale” on fixtures and appliances, resulting in energy inefficiencies. In the United States, water hardness may range from 0 to 500 parts per million (ppm), depending on the source of the water and level of treatment. A level of 500 ppm is considered extremely hard water
Fluoride exists naturally in many ground and surface waters in the United States. At the proper concentrations, fluoride can be effective at preventing, and sometimes reversing cavities in teeth. That’s why many communities add it to drinking water. The level of fluoride in the ground water that ECCV provides is in the range of .69 to 1.37 milligrams per liter. This level is adequate for proper dental health; therefore, no additional fluoride is added to our water. Some people who drink water containing fluoride in excess of the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) over many years could get bone disease, including pain and tenderness of the bones. Fluoride in drinking water at half the MCL or more may cause mottling of children’s teeth, usually in children less than nine years old. Mottling, also known as dental fluorosis, may include brown staining and/or pitting of the teeth, occurs only in developing teeth before they erupt from the gums. Because of these risks, the Environmental Protection Agency has established a MCL for fluoride of 4.0 milligrams per liter.
All drinking water, including bottled water, may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. The presence of these contaminants does not necessarily mean that the water poses a health risk.
Some people may be more vulnerable to contaminants in drinking water than the general population. Immuno-compromised persons; such as persons with cancer undergoing chemotherapy, persons who have undergone organ transplants, persons with HIV/AIDS or other immune system disorders, some elderly, and infants can be particularly at risk from infections. These people should seek advice concerning drinking water from their health care providers. For more information about contaminants and potential health effects, or to receive a copy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines on appropriate means to lessen the risk of infection by cryptosporidium and microbiological contaminants, call the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791
What are PFAS and how do they get into drinking water?
PFAS is short for a group of man-made chemical compounds that are scientifically known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. They have been used for decades in a variety of applications including non-stick and water repellant coatings, and firefighting foam. PFAS are often called “forever chemicals” because their chemical bonds do not deteriorate over time, and are exceptionally difficult to break down.
Industrial activities, firefighting operations, and a variety of other human activities have introduced PFAS into the environment. Over time, these chemicals have come into contact with drinking water supplies, especially those coming from rivers, streams, and shallow wells.
What are the health risks of PFAS?
It’s important to note that many of the potential health impacts of PFAS are based on lifetime exposure, or exposure over many years. There is strong scientific evidence that two types of PFAS, known as PFOA and PFOS, impact the immune system, increase cholesterol, decrease infant birth weight, and cause changes in liver function.
There is moderate evidence that PFAS are associated with preeclampsia and high blood pressure during pregnancy, and effects on thyroid hormones. Children ages 0-5 years, and people who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding are more susceptible to health impacts from PFAS. Visit https://cdphe.colorado.gov/pfas-health for more information.
Have PFAS been found in ECCV water?
ECCV partnered with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to conduct voluntary testing for PFAS in 2020, and then additional testing in 2022. This testing found no detectable PFAS in the portion of ECCV’s water supply that comes from deep aquifers, but did detect PFAS in the portion of ECCV’s water supply that comes from a shallow aquifer fed by the South Platte River.
At the time 2020 testing was completed, PFAS were detected in levels well below the recommended health advisory levels at that time (70 parts per trillion (ppt) combined PFOA + PFOS) established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, in June 2022, the EPA significantly reduced these recommended health advisory levels. The EPA’s current 2022 health advisory levels for PFAS in drinking water are PFOA at 0.004 (ppt), PFOS at 0.02 ppt, PFBS at 2,000 ppt, and GenX at 10 ppt. PFAS levels in water entering ECCV’s treatment plant now exceed these new recommended levels.
Where are PFAS entering ECCV’s water supply?
Testing has identified portions of ECCV’s renewable (river-fed) water supplies as containing detectable levels of PFAS. Testing has not detected PFAS in ECCV’s non-renewable, deep aquifer supplies.
What is ECCV doing to remove PFAS from the water?
ECCV is taking both immediate and long-term steps to remove PFAS from impacted portions of its water supply.
Water in which PFAS have been detected is treated at ECCV’s Northern Water Treatment Plant. The plant uses two treatment processes: a majority of water entering the plant is treated using reverse osmosis (RO) filtration, and the remainder of the water passes through ultraviolet (UV) disinfection. Water from these two processes is then blended. As RO filtration is a known, effective way to reduce PFAS in water, ECCV is now running all but a small portion of water entering the plant through the RO system. By reducing the amount of UV treated water, PFAS levels will now be below the minimum reporting levels required by CDPHE. Testing of this operation has confirmed the effectiveness of this process.
This allows for continued use of this important, renewable water source in the short term. In the long term, ECCV is evaluating additional PFAS filtration options that can be combined with the plant’s UV process. Once this additional filtration system is in place, the plant will be able to operate at full capacity as it will be able to reduce PFAS levels to the point they are either below reporting levels or undetectable in both the RO and UV treatment processes.