PFAS and your Drinking Water
Each year, MW&L performs thousands of water quality tests to ensure your drinking water is safe and clean, and in compliance with all federal and state drinking water standards.
To ensure that tap water is safe to drink, EPA prescribes regulations that limit the amount of certain contaminants in water provided by public water systems. As part of the EPA’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) program, a list of unregulated contaminants is issued every five years that must be monitored by public water systems like MW&L. MW&L tests for contaminants that are suspected to be present in drinking water and do not have health-based standards set under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).
Since 2014, MW&L and other water systems across the country have been testing for unregulated substances called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under the EPA’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) program. For the past decade, PFAS have not been detected in the public water system.
PFAS are a public health concern because they:
- Can impact human health.
- Don’t break down in soil, water, or air.
- Can build up in animals, plants, fish, birds, and people.
- Can travel large distances in water or air.
MW&L most recently tested for PFAS under the EPA’s Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR5) which includes testing for an expanded list of 29 PFAS. MW&L is currently awaiting test results for this round of testing. As with previous testing, MW&L will make the results publicly available on our website as the analyses are completed by an independent, certified laboratory.
MW&L is committed to providing our community with safe, quality drinking water.
Frequently Asked Questions
Per– and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are a category of manufactured chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s. There are thousands of PFAS chemicals, and they are found in many different consumer, commercial, and industrial products. PFAS have characteristics that make them useful in a variety of products, including nonstick cookware, waterproof clothing, firefighting foam, stain-resistant carpets, food packaging, and cleaning products. PFAS are used in products for their strength and resistance to heat, water, and oil. These manufactured chemicals are called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment. They can cycle through the air, soil, and water and enter the food chain.
People can be exposed to PFAS in drinking water, food, indoor dust, some consumer products, and workplaces.
When PFAS are made, used, disposed of, or spilled near water sources, like rivers, aquifers or wells, the chemicals can get into drinking water. Because PFAS do not break down easily, they may remain in water supplies for many years and have been found in people, wildlife, and fish.
Water testing is the only way to know for sure if PFAS are present in drinking water. MW&L has been testing for PFAS since 2014, and have not found PFAS in the source water for the public water system.
MW&L’s water source has been tested for PFAS in 2014 (UCMR3), 2021, and 2023. To date, PFAS have not been detected in our drinking water system. MW&L is currently waiting for results from our 2023 PFAS samples. Below is a brief summary of MW&L’s PFAS testing:
- 2014 - MW&L performed quarterly testing for six PFAS under the EPA’s UCMR3. PFAS were not detected in MW&L’s water system from the Haskins/Nestucca watershed during this monitoring period.
- 2021 - MW&L tested all its sources for PFAS to the lowest detection limits available. No PFAS were detected in water from the Haskins/Nestucca watershed in the Oregon Coast Range, which serves all MW&L customers. Additional testing was performed on MW&L’s potential future Willamette River water source with the same results.
- 2023 - MW&L tested again in November 2023. Results are expected in January 2024.
- 2025 - Quarterly UCMR5 sampling for PFAS and lithium will begin in February 2025.
People who are concerned the water from their private wells may be contaminated can conduct testing for PFAS. The cost of testing is about $300-$600. Homeowners can send a water sample to a PFAS drinking water accredited lab.
Before deciding to test water from a private well, please discuss proper sampling steps with the accredited lab you select to ensure results are accurate.
For more information on PFAS and testing laboratories, please visit the Oregon Health Authority.
MW&L Consumer Confidence Report