Borrego Sun - Since 1949

PFAS Water Sampling to Begin


Last updated 9/14/2023 at 10:39am

At the July 11, BWD Board Meeting, the Directors unanimously approved a plan to begin sampling 7 pre selected BWD and private wells in the Basin for Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are a group of synthetic chemicals used in products to make them non-stick and/or resistant to water, oil, and stains. Although there are more than 4,000 PFAS compounds, PFOA and PFOS are the two that are the most studied and prevalent.

Known as “forever chemicals,” PFAS compounds possess chemical bonds that make them difficult to break down and allow them to bioaccumulate in living organisms. PFAS move in the environment thorough atmospheric deposition, diffusion/ dispersion/ advection, infiltration and may undergo transformation of precursors by abiotic and biotic processes.

Some PFAS are highly soluble, making them relatively mobile in surface and ground waters, and their persistence in soils allows them to leach into drinking water aquifers, which is also described as “everywhere chemicals”. Elevated concentrations of PFAS have been found in areas where high use of fire fighting foam occurred (fire stations/military/etc.), for example. Conversely, lower concentrations have been found in remote locations with now known source.

One potential source in the Borrego Springs groundwater basin could be past PFAS/PFOPS use for Agricultural and Irrigation purposes. BWD is also researching the pesticides and fertilizers used in the past to see if PFAS/PFOS based ingredients are present.

Potential health effects include decreased fertility or increased high blood pressure, low birth weight, accelerated puberty, bone variations, or behavioral changes Increased risk of some cancers: prostate, kidney, and testicular cancers. Immune system effects include reduced ability to fight infections, including reduced vaccine response Other physiological effects may be interference with the body’s natural hormones and increased cholesterol levels and/or risk of obesity.

The USEPA will begin a program to assist agencies with PFSA sampling in the Spring of 2024 on all BWD Production wells. The recently approved $9,000 BWD program is being pursued to see if there are any initial indications of PFAS/PFOS contamination.