Home Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority discontinues drinking water from North plant

Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority discontinues drinking water from North plant

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After tests revealed PFAS at low levels in drinking water produced by the North Rivanna Water Treatment Plant, water is discontinued until further notice.

Test results by the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority revealed per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances, or PFAS. Water production is discontinued “out of an abundance of caution” until further testing indicates that production may resume.

“Our drinking water is in compliance with all Virginia Department of Health water treatment regulations. We are making this infrastructure adjustment as a precaution to ensure we are providing the highest quality drinking water for our community. We continue to utilize our multi-barrier treatment processes, including a granular activated carbon filtering system, to remove any undesirable substances from the drinking water we produce,” Authority Executive Director Bill Mawyer said.

In the meantime, drinking water is provided to the service area by the South Rivanna Water Treatment Plant through an interconnected drinking water distribution system.

The Authority is participating in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) program to gather data on specific contaminants that may be present in drinking water but are not yet subject to EPA drinking water standards. The EPA program, a requirement of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, is called the “Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule.” Water samples were taken at all six of the Authority’s water treatment plants in May 2023, and results recently received indicated none of the specific contaminants were detected at five of the Authority’s water treatment plants: South Rivanna, Observatory, Crozet, Scottsville and Red Hill.

Two PFAS compounds, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), were detected in water produced by the North Rivanna Water Treatment Plant. PFOA was detected at 25 parts per trillion (ppt) and PFOS was detected at 6.5 ppt.

In early 2023, the EPA proposed a very conservative drinking water standard of 4 ppt for these substances. One part per trillion is comparable to one second in 32,000 years. The Authority has routinely collected water quality samples at all of its reservoirs and water treatment plants, and had not detected significant levels of PFAS substances before May 2023.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.