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Doylestown Borough to treat wells for “forever chemicals”


Three of the wells that provide Doylestown Borough residents with their water will be treated with a filtration system designed to reduce PFAS, the so-called “forever chemicals” found in the water supply, said the borough’s manager, John Davis.

Designs for the granular activated carbon treatment system are “about 90 percent shovel-ready,” for the borough’s wells at Sandy Ridge Road, Chapman Park and Maplewood, Davis said during an interview.

Treatment at the town’s other two wells, he said, “is constrained by size,” as the properties are too small to hold the treatment facility. The water, however, will still benefit from the borough’s other filtration systems.

“All residents receive the same quality of water,” Davis said.

“We do not have a schedule at this point,” said the manager, of the timing of building the facilities. “It is our intention to aggressively seek out grant funding as the new EPA and DEP deadlines are clarified.”

The cost for construction of each treatment facility is estimated at $2 million, said Davis. The additional operating costs at each well are expected to be about $220,000 annually. The borough raised its water tax last year and added a $5 fee for each user for a “capital fund” to help offset the growing costs of operating its water system. The borough’s current water budget is about $1.8 million.

Last week, for the first time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established a maximum contaminant level of 4 parts per trillion for six different types of PFAS chemicals. (The previous federal guideline was 70 parts per trillion.)

The new standard is far stricter than the 14 parts per trillion for PFOA and 18 parts per trillion for PFOS that Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection currently allows.

The group of synthetic chemicals is prevalent in everything from cosmetics, household cleaning products, non-stick cookware and water-resistant clothing to the lining of fast-food containers, among many other uses.

High concentrations have been linked to a variety of health concerns including thyroid dysfunction, decreased fertility and increased risk of some cancers.

In March 2022, the Bucks County Commissioners and the county’s district attorney’s office sued several PFAS manufacturers, including 3M, DuPont and Tyco, for their alleged role in contaminating the county’s water and soil.

In 2023, more than three-quarters of Pennsylvania’s streams and waterways were found to be polluted with “forever chemicals,” according to a study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

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