By Jose Herrera
Signal Staff Writer
The Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency has installed a new piece of equipment to allow its team to test groundwater for per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals in-house instead of sending samples to an outside lab.
The new liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometer aids the agency in its commitment to restoring groundwater affected by PFAS, according to a news release from SCV Water. The agency will be able to save time and money when testing groundwater throughout the SCV.
“By taking quick action, we were able to develop PFAS treatment facilities and equip our onsite lab for in-house testing,” SCV Water General Manager Matt Stone said in the news release. “These steps will benefit our long-term water supply, so we can provide safe, high-quality water to thousands of Santa Clarita Valley residents.”
PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that have been used in a variety of industries around the globe, including the United States since the 1940s, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
These chemicals are persistent in the environment and the human body – meaning they don’t break down and can accumulate over time, according to the EPA.
“There’s quite a bit of known information around health effects, but there’s still obviously a lot of research that needs to be done,” said Mike Alvord, SCV Water Agency’s director of operations and maintenance. “But there’s potential for cancer, liver damage, potential fertility issues and more. They’re [researchers] even saying there’s potential for increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease.”
Previously, water samples were sent to an outside lab, but the new lab equipment will supply SCV Water with testing results up to one to two weeks faster. The agency will also see a return on the investment of its total equipment cost of $500,000 in about a year, according to a prepared statement issued by the agency.
The SCV Water Agency has made progress on other projects to restore the valley’s water supply, such as the construction of its first PFAS water treatment facility in 2020. The agency is also making progress on its next treatment facility at its Valley Center Well, located west of Golden Valley Road and bordering the Santa Clara River.
The agency predicts that once the groundwater well is restored it will serve approximately 1,000 families annually. Additional groundwater treatment projects that are expected to be completed within the next year will also restore water supplies to be used by another 3,000 families, according to the statement from the agency.
“We’ll continue to look for new ways to restore the water quality in the Santa Clarita Valley,” Alvord said. “These projects will help us treat and bring wells that are temporarily out of service due to PFAS back online and provide additional local water to our community during this historic drought.”