Sampling Efforts Associated with Public Well Systems in Florida
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is committed to the protection of the groundwater resources of the state and the public health and safety of our residents. As part of these efforts, DEP’s Division of Waste Management routinely investigates sites where there is known or suspected soil and groundwater contamination statewide.
Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) are chemicals that have been recently detected in the environment which may pose public health or ecological risks. In 2012, EPA released a list of 30 CECs to be monitored under the third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3). The UCMR provides for nationwide sampling and reporting of public well systems for CECs. More UCMR information can be found on the DEP Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule webpage.
Included within the UCMR3 list are perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). PFOA and PFOS are man-made chemicals that do not occur naturally in the environment. They have been used in a variety of commercial products since the 1940s, including stain and water repellents used in textile manufacturing and fire suppression foams. Results of the UCMR3 monitoring effort indicated three public well systems in Florida with the sum of PFOA and PFOS concentrations exceeding the EPA’s Health Advisory Level (HAL) of 70 nanograms per liter. The DEP’s Site Investigation Section conducted preliminary assessments associated with these three public well systems to determine likely sources of the contaminants.
The city of Stuart identified three public supply wells that contained levels of PFOA and PFOS exceeding the HAL. Those wells were quickly shut down and multiple sampling events of select production wells have occurred since to ensure compliance. Assessments conducted by the city and supplemented by DEP have determined that aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) is a significant source of the contamination. DEP is expanding the assessment to determine if other sources are present. The city of Stuart and Martin County are also conducting site assessment activities within potential source areas. The Department of Health (DOH) has also conducted a well survey to determine the locations of private supply wells in the area and has offered to sample any identified private drinking water wells. Through DEP’s Water Supply Restoration Program, alternative sources of water are provided for any private wells with concentrations exceeding the HAL. Work by DEP and DOH continues.
The city of Zephyrhills identified one public supply well containing levels of PFOA and PFOS exceeding the HAL. That well has been shut down and remaining wells are monitored to ensure compliance. DEP conducted a preliminary assessment and determined that AFFF was responsible for the contamination. DOH has conducted a well survey and sampled private supply wells in the area, and DEP provides alternative drinking water sources if needed. This work continues, as does assessment work currently proceeding under the direction of the City.
The Emerald Coast Utilities Authority in Escambia County identified two public supply wells near the Pensacola International Airport containing levels of PFOA and PFOS exceeding the HAL. One well has been shut down; the other has been retrofitted with a suitable treatment system and is monitored to ensure compliance. DEP conducted a preliminary assessment and determined that AFFF is a source of the contamination, although other sources may exist. DOH is locating and sampling private supply wells as needed and DEP is taking appropriate action to ensure safe sources of drinking water are available. This work continues, as will assessment work to be performed under the direction of the city of Pensacola.
As a result of the above investigation efforts, the public water supply delivered to these communities is safe, below the HAL, and meets all federal drinking water standards.
For those residents with impacted private wells, DEP’s Water Supply Restoration Program provides access to bottled water or other alternative water supply. This voluntary program also provides funding for a filter, well restoration or connection to public water system as necessary to ensure a safe drinking water supply. The bottled water/alternative water supply remains in place until a filter is installed, the well is replaced/restored, or the site in connected to a public water system.
To review additional information related to these studies, please use the ERIC identification number provided below to search the DEP Nexus Information Portal.
Phase of Work
City of Stuart
Ongoing work by Stuart, Martin County, DEP and DOH
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.