More ‘forever chemicals’ found in WA drinking water as cleanup costs mount


The water pumped from the ground here was once considered pure enough to mix with a little chlorine and then pipe directly to homes.

Today, every gallon from two water district wells must first be flushed through six enormous tanks, each filled with 40,000 pounds of specially treated coal, to remove contaminants.

This pollution, known as “forever chemicals” or PFAS, can increase health risks for certain cancers and other diseases when present in drinking water in minuscule concentrations measured in parts per trillion. Lakewood is one of more than a dozen Washington public water systems with detections above levels defined by the state to be suitable for long-term consumption — and widespread testing is just ramping up.

Massive filtration systems can remove the contamination, but at a steep cost. Lakewood, where PFAS entered the ground from firefighting foams used at nearby Joint Base Lewis-McChord, spent $5.5 million on its system. Through the decades, operating costs and maintenance are forecast to soak up millions of more dollars.

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The Seattle Times, 11-12-22