As communities across the globe begin assessing Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) impacts to municipal and private drinking water, many are confronted with the financial challenge of where to spend limited resources to achieve the greatest impact. Wood is unlocking a resilient strategy to help a regional area, that includes 14 communities and more than 170,000 residents, to evaluate feasible alternatives for sustainable drinking water as part of an $850 million settlement in the first-ever Natural Resource Damage Claim for PFAS in the United States.
After PFAS were first detected in regional drinking water supplies, the contamination was traced to landfills used from the 1950s through the early 1970s for the disposal of PFAS manufacturing waste. To begin a path forward, our team is advising state agencies and the communities in the regional area to develop a conceptual drinking water supply plan to provide clean, sustainable drinking water that addresses each community’s needs today and in the future.
The plan considers treatment options for both public water systems and private wells to address the approximately 150 square mile groundwater PFAS contamination. Both hydraulic and hydrogeologic modeling of existing drinking water distribution systems, combined with groundwater modeling of source water quality and quantity were considered to develop feasible alternatives.
Engaging with more than 100 stakeholders for feedback and input over a year-and-a-half, Wood researched and developed four categories of drinking water scenarios, within which at total of around 20 scenarios were assessed for feasibility in terms of costs, hydraulic feasibility, groundwater availability and quality, as well as site-specific considerations. The scenarios ranged from individual community solutions to regional and sub-regional approaches for drinking water supply, and consider both traditional and innovative treatment techniques.
Engaged citizens, local government officials, along with state and county employees are involved in monthly work group sessions and community listening sessions are being hosted on a periodic basis. All engagement efforts provide a constant feedback loop and ensure early adoption and regular collaboration to further refine the scenarios and develop the optimal treatment solution plan for the region. With the region’s population expected to increase to more than 220,000 people by 2040, the plan will ensure resilient systems are designed to meet future drinking water needs.
As the scale and complexity of a PFAS‐impacted water supply continues to challenge similar communities across the US, this project establishes a framework for the evaluation and delivery of an affordable solution to ensure people have access to safe drinking water not just in the US, but around the globe. Wood is exploring new ways to help these communities take the critical first step to determine where to spend limited funds for the greatest impact by spearheading bespoke plans at a regional level that include a detailed understanding of the hydrogeology and infrastructure.