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Abington Township Water Quality January 31st Comment Deadline

January 18, 2019 8:01 AM | Brian Bamberger (Administrator)

Two contaminants – Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), known as a part of the PFAS family of chemicals – in drinking water supplies, have become a concern across the country, Montgomery County and now in Abington Township, where groundwater contamination from PFAS is believed to originate from nearby military bases (the Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster and Naval Air Station in Willow Grove).  PFAS were widely used at U.S. military bases in firefighting foam and have been found in hundreds of public and private drinking-water systems near bases across the country since 2014.  PFAS spread through underground plumes into groundwater, which means other parts of the Township could also be effected. The RMCA recommends that all citizens get involved by submitting comments.

Through January 31, 2019, the PFAS Action Team is taking public comment through the DEP eComment tool - https://www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/eComment/ ~ look for “PFAS Public Input” and then under Actions click on View comments to read submitted comments and click on Submit comments to submit your comment.  Please note these public comments may be sorted by city and name. We highly recommend you read Abington Township Commissioner Spiegelman’s comments and also urge your Township Commissioner, neighbors, family, and all associates to submit similar comments.

Some facts:

  1. Groundwater supplies drinking water for 51% of the total U.S. population and 99% of total rural population.
  2. Groundwater helps grow our food. 64% of groundwater is used for irrigation to grow crops.
  3. Groundwater is an important component in many industrial processes.
  4. Groundwater is a source of recharge for lakes, rivers, and wetlands.
  5. All Abington Township public water is supplied through Aqua PA groundwater wells!

Background: Last July, local and state public officials asked Aqua PA to take a well offline that serves the North Hills section of Abington and Upper Dublin. While the PFAS contaminants were below the levels specified as dangerous by the EPA, a very recent CDC draft report recommended a much lower level for PFAS contaminants, which led to the offline request.  In August, the Township’s Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to support House Bill 705 to provide safe drinking water and support for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Environmental Quality Board to set lower limits of contaminants and for higher standards for safe drinking water in Abington Township.  In response to this and other municipal, legislator and citizen advocacy, Governor Wolf established the PFAS Action Team to address PFAS contaminants and protect Pennsylvania residents. The Action Team is charged with developing a comprehensive response to identify and eliminate sources of contamination, ensure drinking water is safe, and manage environmental contamination. Through January 31, 2019, the State PFAS Action Team is taking public comment through the DEP eComment tool at https://www.ahs.dep.pa.gov/eComment/ ~ look for “PFAS Public Input” and then under “Actions,” click on View comments to read submitted comments.  Click on Submit comments to submit your comment.  Please note these public comments may be sorted by city and name. The RMCA highly recommends you read Commissioner Spiegelman’s comments and also urge your Township Commissioner, neighbors, family, and all associates to submit comments. The deadline to submit comments is January 31, 2019.

The RMCA and Abington Environmental Advisory Council urges you to take these additional actions:

Oppose Aqua PA’s proposed 16% rate hike until the problem is corrected through GAC-filters, by filing a complaint at http://www.puc.state.pa.us/filing_resources/filing_complaints.aspx

Join the Upper Dublin and Neighboring Areas Water Updates Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1637510903232402/ to stay informed (e.g. some dental flosses contain PFAS) and lobby for your interests.

Support legislation introduced by state legislators Rep. Thomas Murt and Sen. Maria Collett to protect us from PFAS contaminants.

Below is the text of Commissioner Spiegelman’s stellar online comments which he has given us permission to publish :

The dramatic down-regulation of the EPA's PFAS HAL over the last decade, coupled with the striking conclusions of the ATSDR/CDC report, makes it alarmingly clear that (1) using the EPA's HAL as the Commonwealth standard is effectively useless and meaningless; and (2) PFAS molecules have no business being in Pennsylvanians' drinking water. The longterm solution is for the Department of Defense to undertake a large-scale groundwater cleansing project similar to the innovative one that is being successfully executed at the former Pease Base in Portsmouth, NH (which was declared a Superfund site). But Pennsylvanians cannot afford to, and should not have to, wait for such a solution to come about at the glacial pace of federal government action. Therefore, the shortest and most immediate distance between the people of our Commonwealth and the clean, safe drinking water that is our right under the PA Constitution is for the state's water providers, including Aqua PA, to be compelled to GAC-filter the water they sell us to the point where PFAS chemicals are at nondetectable levels at our faucets. Aqua has been thusly compelled in New Jersey and have complied, and they have stated that they are prepared to comply similarly in Pennsylvania if they are (in their words) "given the proper guidance." In other words, they will continue to shield themselves with the current 70ppt EPA HAL until either the EPA lowers that figure or they are otherwise compelled by the Commonwealth. Since the former is not going to happen any time in the foreseeable future, it is incumbent upon the Commonwealth to force water providers to GAC-filter ASAP.


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