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    Ten County Wastewater Plants Told to Measure PFA Levels

    by Sheryl Hamlin

    What are PFAs?

    From the notice issued by the Water Board, PFAs are described as follows:

    PFAS are a family of more than 5,000 man-made and mostly unregulated chemicals that have been produced since the mid-1900s. They are mobile, persistent, and bioaccumulative. They are resistant to degradation in the environment and when degradation occurs, it often results in the formation of other PFAS compounds. The PFAS compounds have very different physical and chemical properties. Currently, the key classes of concern are perfluoroalkyl sulfonic acids such as the long-chain perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).

    PFAS are manufactured globally and have been used in the production of a wide range of industrial and household products. Discharges to sewer systems from these sources, including disposal of landfill leachate and firefighting foam, results in PFAS in the influent to POTWs. Typical POTW treatment systems are not designed to remove PFAS. Therefore, the discharge from POTWs, especially those with industrial inputs, are possible contributors of PFAS to the environment.

    Read the entire Water Board notice here .

    According to the Water Board, There were a total of 25 publicly owned treatment works with at least 1 MGD or greater capacity that were sent the investigative order in the LA regional board jurisdiction. This is a statewide order that was issued by Eileen Sobeck, the State Water Board Executive Director on July 9, 2020

    How do PFAs enter the Biota?

    Biota includes all of the animal and plant life in a region. The Water Board provided a model of how PFAs can contaminate surface water and agriculture in a Biota.

    Source: Interstate Technical Regulatory Council, Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, March 2020

    Read more about PFAs here.

    From Landfills to Wastewater Plants

    Earlier this year, the California Water Board issued orders for PFAs to be monitored at landfills. The Toland landfill was one of those receiving these orders.

    Now, the following wastewater plants (aka POTW or Publicly Owned Treatment Works) in Ventura County have been asked to supply information about the PFAs in both the effluent and the biosolids (sludge):

    In addition to Santa Paula, some other facilities that received this order in Ventura County include the Ventura WRF by Ventura City, Hill Canyon WWTP, Ojai Valley WWTP, Camrosa Water Reclamation Facility, Oxnard Wastewater Treatment Plant, Simi Valley WQCP, Moorpark WWTP – WRR, Fillmore WWTP and Wastewater Recycling Plant and Camarillo WRP.

    Fines are specified at $5000 per day for failure to submit the measurements and the questionnaire.

    There are regulatory levels for PFAs in drinking water, according to the Water Board, but as of now there are no levels for PFAs in wastewater. Read more from the State Water Board here.

    Note the EPA stepped up its requirements for PFA testing in drinking water in 2019.

    For more information about the author, click sherylhamlin dot com

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    William Hicks
    William Hicks
    2 years ago

    I know what parts per million (PPM) represents. Along with the term Lethal Dose that will Kill 50% of test animals (LD-50) it represents a lifetime exposure of a substance to test animals that can be extrapolated to human exposure. That’s a LIFETIME EXPOSURE.

    With that in mind, what does parts per trillion represent (PPT)? It’s so minuscule that it approaches a drop of water in an olympic size swimming pool.

    William Hicks
    William Hicks
    2 years ago
    Reply to  Sheryl Hamlin


    William Hicks
    William Hicks
    2 years ago

    With this issue going back to the mid-1900’s, this sounds like another “deep pockets” project to me. With that length of time, what really can be done about it that’s reasonable, or is this just another way to fleece the flock?

    With the “expert advice” we’ve received from environmentalists on proper forestry practices regarding old stand forests that have failed to produce adequate wood while producing fuel volume for catastrophic fires, why should this be just one more thing on our lists of worries with ever growing economic consequences?

    Edo McGowan
    Edo McGowan
    2 years ago

    For the consummate player in all this, part of the background will be found within the pages of the now moribund 208 Regional Water Quality Control Plan for Ventura County, circa1980’s. Politics within and from the water industry have been steadfast in kicking the can down the road, so the true implications are never shown. Thus, by tying the hands of the water boards, public health was impacted. After an analysis of the new incoming data, it will be interesting to see what the regulatory community does with it.

    Dr Edo McGowan

    Edo McGowan
    Edo McGowan
    2 years ago
    Reply to  Edo McGowan

    St Paul, Minn has installed at its big PTOW, three von Roll fluid beds to consume the sludge and turn it into energy through which it runs the plant. An economic analysis of the system demonstrated that this approach was far superior to land application of sewage sludge—-a material that carries numerous pathogens and toxins into the agricultural regions of our country as well as its forestry systems..

    Here in California a design was brought forward by Ken Stedman that uses a rotating screen to remove the solids ahead of the typical plant processes, squezees the water out in a worm screw press and sends the dewatered solids to a fluid-bed to extract usable fuel. It is important to remove the solids before they are digested, solids holding a variety on xenobiotics including PFAS are thus removed, hence they don’t become digested into solutions. POTWS have a hard time dealing with materials in solution which are thus released to the environment.

    POTWs will need to be completely redesigned if we expect to protect our water resources.

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