• Water test results discussed at town hall meeting

  • Community assured drinking water is safe.

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  • Staff report
    Fort Leavenworth was among six Army installations found to have levels of two commonly used chemicals in its drinking water above new Environmental Protection Agency lifetime health advisory levels that were set in May 2016.
    Levels of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), exceeding the EPA’s lifetime health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion, were found in three of Fort Leavenworth’s water wells, which were taken off-line in December 2016 and January 2017. The post’s other two wells being used for the post’s drinking water did not test positive and are more than sufficient to meet water demands.
    Garrison Commander Col. Andrew Shoffner and Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Chief Dale Cleland told housing mayors and other post leaders gathered March 7 at the Resiliency Center for a town hall meeting that testing results and appropriate actions to be taken would be shared with the community transparently and assured them that Fort Leavenworth’s drinking water is safe.
    “A drinking water standard is a regulation, it is what all of our drinking water plants (and) companies need to meet, and ours has always met the drinking water standards in spades,” Cleland said. “(The EPA notice) is an advisory, not a standard that has to be met, and in fact, most places don’t test for it nor are they required to test for it — this is a case of the Army going above and beyond.”
    PFOS and PFOA are used in many products, including haircare products, carpet, clothing, paper food wrappers and other materials resistant to water, grease and stains. They are also used in aqueous film forming foam, a product used by military and civilian fire departments.
    “(Firefighter foam is) where the Army — first the Air Force for the last two years, and then the Army for the last several months — has gotten focused on it because, of course, wells frequently are in the lowest point, flattest point, and that is also where our airfields happen to end up, so they’ve been looking at the firefighter foam connection to it,” Cleland said. “We are investigating that here at Fort Leavenworth.”
    According to the drinking water sampling results notification being distributed throughout the community, the post’s drinking water supply was sampled Dec. 6, 2016, and results were received Dec. 17 detecting both PFOS at 79 parts per trillion and PFOA at 28 ppt, for a combined total of 98 ppt, which exceeds the EPA’s recently lowered LHA of 70 ppt.
    “American Water (Fort Leavenworth’s privatized drinking water partner) is working with us on this, both allowing us liberty of the plant in order to test the wells and test the plant itself, and they are also working with their corporate headquarters on what-if scenarios — if we’ve got a scenario where we have to do something more than treatment, what are the options, ranging from drilling different wells to what sort of additional treatment could they add to the plant, and, of course, how much it would cost to do that,” Cleland said.
    Page 2 of 2 - The Army Corps of Engineers will retest the post’s wells this month to confirm the earlier findings with validated results expected by the end of March.
    For specific questions about the sampling, contact Cleland at (913) 684-8977 or dale.d.cleland.civ@mail.mil. To learn more about PFOS and PFOA, visit https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/drinking-water-health-advisories-pfoa-and-pfos.
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