A sign mounted to an entrance sign to Admiral’s Cove reveals good news Friday, March 3, 2017 for residents awaiting test results from water samples taken from their community wells last month: No contaminants were detected. In the background, outside of Admiral’s Cove, is a guesthouse on property where contaminants were found in a private well. Photo by Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

Admiral’s Cove well tests come back clean

Admiral’s Cove residents are breathing a sigh of relief after water samples taken from community wells revealed no detected contaminants.

An engineering services company was contracted by the Navy to test the wells, which service nearly 500 homes in Central Whidbey. Specifically, the tests were taken to look for chemicals that the Navy once used in firefighting foam at nearby Outlying Field Coupeville, where the Navy conducts flight training.

The samples were taken Feb. 20 and the results came back quickly.

Gary Winlund, vice president of Admiral’s Cove Water District, was notified Thursday afternoon by the Navy and was quick to post signs around the neighborhood that read “PFAS, PFOS non detectable.”

Admiral’s Cove has more than 1,000 residents and is the largest non-municipal water district in the Coupeville area.

“The term we use is non detected, which means the lab equipment — as low as it could go at whatever power level — could not detect the chemicals of concern,” said Leslie Yuenger, public affairs officer with Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest.

The tests were part of the second phase of an investigation by the Navy around OLF Coupeville to look for contaminants in private drinking water wells and water systems.

The Navy has been testing for the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, or PFAS, in wells around Naval Air Station Whidbey Island’s Ault Field and the OLF since November after the chemicals were found in a drinking water well at OLF in September.

The substances were once present in firefighting foam.

Since that finding, the Navy has done extensive testing in properties near OLF Coupeville and Ault Field.

The result was the discovery of seven wells near OLF and one well near Ault Field that had samples of PFAS — specifically perfluoroctane (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) — above the Environmental Protection Agency lifetime health advisory of 70 parts per trillion.

Yeunger said that as of Friday morning those figures hadn’t changed.

Andy Campbell, of Whidbey Water Services, which manages the water system at Admiral’s Cove and other non-municipal water districts on Whidbey, said he suspects there will be follow-up tests, but nothing in the near future.

A printed report of the test results won’t be coming for a few weeks, but Campbell said he was pleased that the Navy notified him once it got word of no contaminants.

“They wanted to get the word out by calling to let us know,” he said, “so people could be a little more relaxed.”