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Water authority meets new forever-chemical EPA standards for drinking water

Posted at 6:05 PM, Apr 18, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-18 19:05:53-04

HOWARD (NBC 26) — Communities across the country have three years to see if their drinking water meets a new standard set by the White House. But, parts of Brown County won't be needing that long. The levels of PFAS the Central Brown County Water Authority has found fall below the requirements.

  • Get an inside look at the Central Brown County Water Authority's facilities
  • A new standard set by the White House this month establishes national guidelines PFAS in drinking water
  • Water Authority says with such low levels, they don't filter for PFAS, known as forever chemicals

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story.)

The national standard for the amount of PFAS in drinking water was set more than a week ago. I'm Pari Apostolakos in Brown County where the water authority says they already meet the new requirements.

Central Brown County Water Authority draws its water from the Manitowoc Public Utility, which pumps it out of Lake Michigan. It flows to many communities including Howard, Allouez, Bellevue and De Pere.

"We've had water service to the member communities since 2007," Nic Sparacio, the Central Brown County Water Authority General Manager, said.

Public water utilities nationwide now have three years to comply with the first-ever federal guidelines on levels of PFAS in drinking water. According to the EPA, studies have linked the chemicals to health issues including decreased fertility, developmental delays in children and increased risk of some cancers.

Sparacio shared data they collected last year.

"We're happy to share with out customers that the water authority and Manitowoc Public Utility water does meet the newly adopted EPA standards for PFAS," he said.

Data shows their water comes in below the EPA's new guidelines for different types of PFAS.

"The EPA set those standards at four parts per trillion," Sparacio said. "So, four parts per trillion, you can think of that like four drops of water [out of] all the water in 17 Olympic-sized swimming pools."

Sparacio says they currently don't filter for PFAS and if they did, it would be costly. Tens of millions of dollars.

He says with levels so low, the data doesn't exist to show whether or not it would be worth it.

"That would eventually go as a cost on the rate payers who buy the water" he said. "So, that's why we have to be very careful about those kinds of things."

Sparacio says the water authority was established in the late 1990s after growing concern over Arsenic and Radium in well water. In brown county Pari Apostolakos NBC 26.