The City of Pico Rivera is moving forward with its remedy to remove perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) chemicals, or “forever chemicals,” from the City’s water supply with the installation of special filtration systems.

Since 2019, the State Water Resources Control Board has been updating their guidelines for local water agencies to follow in detecting and reporting the presence of PFOS and PFOA in drinking water. These compounds are within the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) family of chemicals that are used extensively in consumer products such as carpets, clothing, furniture fabric, food packaging, nonstick cookware, and firefighting foams.

Since the updated guidelines were announced, the City has been notifying affected customers of the presence of PFOS and PFOA in the drinking water but has not yet had to shut down any of the City’s wells due to the fact that the levels detected are still within the limits of safe deliverable water. As a result of the State guidelines, like many area Cities and Water agencies, City officials have been working to find solutions to eliminate this chemical in the City’s water supply.

Beginning in July 2020, the City adopted a Water Master Plan that would address the water quality and treatment needs including the treatment for PFOS and PFOA chemicals. Later in November 2020, the first major steps were taken when the design contract for a water treatment system was awarded for all of the City’s water treatment facilities. Since then, the City’s treatment facilities have undergone several improvements, including electrical upgrades in order to accommodate the necessary equipment needed to filter out PFOS and PFOA chemicals from the drinking water supply.

The Citywide PFAS projects will be made possible with funding coming from multiple sources, including a $5.8 million grant secured from the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD).

In addition to the WRD funding, Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez included $2.5 million in the House Appropriations Committee’s 2022 energy and water funding bill last Summer to help the City fund this project. Funding for this project was signed into law on March 15 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022.

Construction of the first project is anticipated to begin in May of 2022. Residents who have questions or concerns can contact the City’s Public Works Department at 562.801.4421.

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