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Public Works keeping an eye on contaminant levels in well #34
tap water

Water coming from one city well in Ceres is being watched for a level of contaminants that could pose a health risk if they worsen.

The Ceres City Council was notified on Monday that the city was ordered by the California Water Board to monitor Well 34 for one quarter beginning in January and that it exceeded the “notification limit” for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Notification levels are deemed as precautionary and advisory. If tests show the contaminants are increasing, the city will have to either stop producing water from the well or notify the public. The city is looking into treatment alternatives.

PFAS are a category of chemicals that were once used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s. PFAS are found in a products like nonstick cookware, waterproof clothing, firefighting foam, and in certain manufacturing processes. PFAS break down very slowly in the environment but can build up in people, animals and the environment over time. PFAS have been largely phased out due to health and environmental concerns but is still found in the environment and drinking water, especially near industrial sites, airports and military installations.

Prolonged exposure to PFAS may lead to a negative health effect on developing babies and pregnant people, weaken a body’s ability to fight diseases, increased risk for some cancers, liver damage and elevate cholesterol levels.

The City Council was informed that for two consecutive sampling periods, Well 34 exceeded the notification limit of:

• 3 nanograms per liter (ng/L) for Perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxs);

• 6.5 ng/L for Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid  (PFOS);

• 5.1 ng/L for Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA).

The average sampling results for PFHxS is 6.95 ng/L, PFOs is 20.75 ng/L, and PFOA is 7.65 micrograms per liter (ug/L).

The city Water Division is continuing to monitor for PFAS, while maximum contaminant levels are set by the California Water Boards.