EPA Reduces Limits on PFOS and PFOA in Drinking Water

The City of Thornton has recently reported detecting PFOA and PFOS in their drinking water many times above the EPA limit. Admittedly, in June of 2022 the EPA drastically lowered the acceptable limit of these substances due to negative impacts on human health. This contaminated water appears to be coming from groundwater wells. The presence of these substances will cause tremendous treatment costs to groundwater providers and their customers.

Greeley has thus far avoided this problem due to the use of its surface mountain water supply. Most of this water is “first use” meaning that no other city has used it (and possibly contaminated it) and returned it to the river. However, Greeley’s recent purchase of Terry Ranch groundwater may present us with PFOS and other contamination problems in the future when Greeley starts drawing groundwater out of the Terry Ranch aquifer.

Terry Ranch is known to have Uranium contamination above the current EPA limit (which the EPA may further lower in the future as it did with PFOS) and the possibility of future TCE contamination from a missile silo in southern Wyoming which is already contaminating some of Cheyenne’s water supply. All of these substances require very expensive treatment to remove from the citizens’ drinking water.

Or will the burden of filtering be placed on the individual homeowner? Some middle and lower income homeowners may be unable to afford this treatment. Many of these homeowners have already stopped watering their lawns due to the high cost of Greeley’s water, which is near the top of all water providers along the Front Range. Twenty years ago Greeley had one of the most economical and efficiently run water systems along the Front Range. What has changed?

Greeley owns 15,000 acre feet of conditional water decrees on the Poudre River which could have been put into a staged expansion of Milton Seaman Reservoir which the City of Greeley decided not to pursue in favor of buying Terry Ranch groundwater.

Let’s hope that Greeley does not decide to sell off these Poudre River decrees, as we may need them in the future if the Terry Ranch groundwater does not deliver as expected or becomes too expensive to treat to EPA standards.

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