Navy working with town on water filtration system

I am very pleased to announce that the Navy has agreed to treat the Town of Coupeville’s drinking water for Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The drinking water distributed by the town has always been safe to drink and currently meets all of the state regulations. However, the Navy has decided to take precautionary measures to protect our water from these compounds.

The Town of Coupeville plans to and needs to increase the production of well 1-08 to meet the increase in water usage for our current and future customers. Well 1-08 is the newest and highest-producing well in our drinking water well inventory and was always planned to take care of increased water demand. It is also the town’s well that contains PFOA just below the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) lifetime advisory level of 70 parts per trillion (ppt). The continued ability of this well to provide clean water requires additional measures to protect it from PFAS compounds.

Treating our drinking water for PFOA and PFOS will also provide longterm mitigation for any number of situations that may arise in the future:

n Treatment will allow the Town to use well 1-08 to its full production capacity.

n Treatment will protect against increased or new contamination in the future … if the plumes move.

n Treatment will already be in place if the EPA health advisory level becomes a regulatory standard.

n Treatment will assure our water meets the current advisory level and meets any future lower advisory level.

n Treatment will safeguard our water if the EPA or State adds additional PFAS compounds to the regulation.

n Treatment will reduce the concern of drilling future wells that may have some level of PFAS.

The treatment will be a filter system that is currently being designed by CH2M, a nationally recognized engineering firm whose “projects span industries, utilities and local communities, balancing social, economic and environmental priorities, ensuring people have access to safe, reliable water supplies.” The Navy will pay for the design, engineering, construction and annual operation of this filter system at no cost to the Town’s water customers. Information on the specifics of the filter system and the construction timeline will be shared with the public as soon as it’s available.

The Navy has been a very willing and proactive partner in finding solutions to addressing drinking water concerns caused by PFAS compounds at the Outlying Landing Field Coupeville. They notified the town and the surrounding residents immediately after discovering these emerging contaminates at OLF. They tested wells and held many public meetings to inform and educate the community about PFAS. They drilled 31 test wells and conducted specialized tests to try and define the area of contamination and the movement of groundwater in the area. They are voluntarily adding treatment to our public water system, at no cost to our water customers, even though currently there are no state or national mandatory regulations pertaining to PFAS compounds. They have been a conscientious neighbor, wanting to do the right thing in this unfortunate situation.

The Town of Coupeville has also been fortunate to have had the support of many other partners as we have all worked our way through this uncharted territory. The Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health, the Department of Ecology and Island County have all worked with the town to achieve the best longterm, permanent solution. I thank them all for their expertise and guidance.

• Molly Hughes is Mayor of Coupeville.