Dear NWS Clients,
The staff at Northwest Water Systems hopes that you had a wonderful Holiday season and would like to wish you a Happy New Year! 2023 was another year of growth for Northwest Water Systems! We continue to work with over 800 individual water systems, in addition to monthly system operations and repairs many of these we provide utility billing, financial management and engineering & planning services.
We have several updates for the New Year:
► ACH- Due to the cost increase from our payment processor, we are no longer able to offer ACH as a free service to our customers. As of January 1st, 2023, there will be a 4% fee to process each payment. If you wish to opt out of ACH going forward, please contact our office to cancel.
► Census Update Requirement -You may have received an annual customer census request from our office. This is required for NWS to effectively manage your water system. It is necessary for us to complete Cross Connection and Lead and Copper surveys, WFI updates and much more. Please make sure this information is up to date with the NWS office. This information is also necessary if you use our Rapid Notification System (RNS) service. If NWS provides utility billing for your system, we already have the current information. NWS does not share or sell any customer information.
► Company Directory- Included is an updated NWS company directory so as you have questions you will know who to contact.
► Consumer Confidence Reports (CCR) - All Group A Community water systems are required to have CCR reports completed annually for the compliance year of 2023 by July 1st, 2024. CCR Reports will be posted on our website. We will email a copy for you to deliver to the customers on your water system, if you prefer NWS to mail these to the customers on your system, please let us know ASAP. This year you will also have a form to complete and return to our office certifying that these were delivered to the customers on your water system.
► Contact Update- Please complete and return the attached contact update sheet.
Water system contact and billing information can now also be updated on our website at:
► CPI- The 2024 annual increase is 3.6% as of February 1st
► Department of Ecology- You may now notice your system has Department of Ecology requirements. If you have any questions regarding these requirements and how they affect your water system, please contact email@example.com
► Invoices- Please make sure your invoices are paid on time. All invoices will have late fees assessed at 5% at 30 days, with a minimum of $5.
► Lead and Copper Rule Revision (LCRR) - handed down from EPA to DOH went into effect, December 2023. Please view https:/ /www.nwwatersystems.com to read and review the details regarding the new regulatory requirements.
► Lead Service Line Inventory- is due by October 2024 for all Group A Community and Non-Transient Non-Community (NTNC) Water Systems. Each homeowner will be receiving a survey to fill out and return to NWS.
► Utility Billing Services -The door knocker rate has increased to $50 plus postage/travel as needed.
► Water Use Efficiency Reports (WUE) - All Group A Community water systems are required to have WUE reports completed annually for the compliance year of 2023 by July 1st, 2024. If you have any water usage that NWS is unaware of (fire hydrants, filling trucks, leaks, flushing, etc.) please contact Stephanie at: firstname.lastname@example.org with information. This is helpful information that can be noted in the reporting.
►WQMS -Water Quality Monitoring Schedules. Please be aware of what samples are due annually for your water system. Please take a look at these reports on The Department of Health office of drinking water website at: https:/ /fortress.wa.gov/doh These are updated each spring and throughout the year as needed.
Thank you for your continued efforts in keeping your water systems in compliance with The Department of Health.
(The full flyer includes Services Offered, the Point of Contact Update Form and a full directory of staff.)
The Lead & Copper
The Lead and Copper Rule Revision (LCRR), handed down from EPA to DOH, went into effect, December 2023. One of the first tasks water systems are faced with is the Lead Service Line Inventory (LSLI) that is part of the new regulatory requirements. This involves water systems compiling an inventory of the material used from the water main line connection to the meter (or property corner for those systems that are not metered individually yet), then after the meter to the home, which is considered private or homeowner property, to the house. The primary objective is to ensure there are no lead service line components, by definition. In general, water systems are responsible for the maintenance and repair of all water system components up to the meter, or property corner. They do not have jurisdiction on private property (unless in a utility easement) so up to the entrance into private property, or post water meter, is considered the homeowners responsibility. Lead service lines were primarily installed in the late 1800's through the 1940's. It would be very unlikely to find lead components (such as a gooseneck or pigtail, which is simply a raised horseshoe or slack in the lead service line, so if when excavated, had a portion of slack line to pull on without breaking the line - hopefully) installed after the 1940's.
Lead pipes visually are identified by being a dull greyish color, that when scraped with a sharp edged tool such as a knife, they will appear silver and shiny. Lead is not magnetic, so another way to verify would be if a magnet will adhere to it. If a magnet does, then it's likely galvanized steel. The exterior of a galvanized pipe may appear corroded, with large rust spots or "growths" on the exterior portion, which is primarily rust and zinc corrosion (galvanic corrosion). Depending on the age and chemistry of your pipe and water supply, the interior may look nearly new, or it may also have corrosion present, which if on the interior, may eventually restrict water flow as the corrosion increases. Other types of common water service lines could be PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride) pipe. There are two different types of PVC pipe used for service lines. White colored pipe is schedule 40, the lighter weight of the two, and darker grey PVC is schedule 80, the heavier duty of the two. The other common type is Polyethylene, commonly referred to as "poly" pipe. It is most commonly a black pipe, though some manufacturers produce this in a blue color pipe. PEX is a newer plastic pipe though not very often is this type of pipe buried. It is much more commonly used on the interior of a home. PEX may be blue (cold water), red (rated for hot water) or an opaque white type of pipe. Service lines are most commonly some combination of those types of pipe especially for systems built after the 40's. In 1986, the first lead reduction rule was adopted into the Safe Drinking Water Act (first introduced in 1974, amended in 86' and again in 96'). It's possible, though fairly rare for copper pipe to be used in service lines, primarily due to cost, as copper is much more expensive versus PVC and Poly pipe. Fittings used anywhere in the service lines for a pipe transition, or to accommodate bends needed to go up/down or around, may be a variety of different types of material, though are small enough they aren't considered a significant contributor to lead, should they have lead in them at all. These may include brass, differing PVC or nylon plastic fittings. These fittings do not need to be identified in the LSLI data. It is considered safe to assume, any components installed post 1986, as a non-lead service line. This fact may save you, your neighbors, and the water system the headache of the potential need to excavate any portion of a service line if the system as a whole was built post 1986.
Water purveyors, those responsible for the source water supply, such as a well or spring, and pump houses with tanks and plumbing, as well as a reservoir and pressure pumps as applicable, are responsible to identify plumbing material in service lines up to the meter or private property corners. Lines after the meter or inside the private property line boundary are the homeowner or business owner's responsibility to identify the type of material. Again, the goal is to ensure there are no lead lines installed.
We Have PFAS In Our Water....
What Do We Do Now?
PFAS includes a wide range of chemicals (PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFHxS, PFBS, etc) associated with multiple serious health concerns. The WSDOH has a lot of information about PFAS on their website at: https://doh.wa.gov/community-and-environment/contaminants/pfas
The proposed maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFOA and PFOS is 4.0 ng/L each as well as a “Hazard Index” of 1.0, determined by a formula for other PFAS chemicals. The current Washington State Action levels for PFOA and PFAS are 10 ng/L and 15ng/L, respectively. Right now, the only requirements are to continue testing and provide public notification if your levels are above the state action level; however, water systems with PFAS levels above the proposed MCL will be required to reduce or eliminate PFAS.
Can you treat water to remove PFAS?
Yes! There are two primary treatment techniques for PFAS: Granular Activated Carbon (like a giant Brita filter) and a specialized adsorption resin. Reverse osmosis also removes PFAS, but is more expensive and generates a waste stream that is expensive to dispose. Which treatment technique is best depends on the water quality, existing infrastructure, and how the water is used. Treatment for small systems should cost approximately $2,000-$3,500 per gpm to be treated.
Are there other alternatives to treatment?
Yes! Often times it makes more sense to drill a new well in a different location, or to a deeper aquifer. Another alternative could be to purchase water from or consolidate with another water system. The best alternative depends on what the option will cost (construction as well as on-going O&M), the values of the water system, and the long-term needs associated with the alternative. The cost of non-treatment alternatives depends of course on how deep an alternative well would be or what the requirements for connecting to another water system are.
How can we pay for this new requirement?
While there is no requirement to mitigate for PFAS right now, the requirement to mitigate and the associated deadlines are anticipated to be out within the next year. Deciding how to mitigate for PFAS and making a funding plan early will provide you with the best chance of receiving grants, or other funding assistance.
Grants: The WSDOH State Revolving fund has grants available for “emerging contaminants”, of which PFAS receives the highest priority. While this grant is no guarantee, it is anticipated to be available for multiple (but limited) years. Systems that “get in line” now will be eligible for future funding cycles, if they are not selected in the first year of application. To be eligible for this grant, the system has to have a planning document approved (a Small Water System Management Program or a Water System Plan) prior to the application. Applications are accepted the beginning of October through the end of November each year. In order to ensure DOH will have time to review and approve your plan by then, it should be submitted before August, so early in the year is the time to get started. If the application requirements aren’t met by the end of November, the system would need to wait until the following year to apply for funding.There are also consolidation feasibility study grants available. These are only available to Community water systems and are accepted during the month of August each year. Additional information about DOH funding can be found here: https://doh.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2023-06/DWSRF-2023FundingFlyer.pdf
Class Action Lawsuit: There is a class action lawsuit against 3M and another against Dupont and several smaller companies. These suits have resulted in an agreed upon settlement that has been preliminarily approved by the court and should be finalized in early 2024. The settlement claims are now open; however, once the Effective date is set, water systems have only 60 days left to submit their claim. Most Community Group A water systems qualify to participate in the settlement, if they so choose. More information regarding the settlement is available at https://www.pfaswatersettlement.com
Loans: There are multiple low-interest loan programs available such as WSDOH State Revolving Fund, USDA Rural Development, RCAC, Commerce, and Public Works Board. Each of these programs have different eligibility requirements and funding terms.
What to do next?
If PFAS is in your water the first step is to determine the best way to mitigate the contamination and reduce or eliminate PFAS from the water you deliver. Once the optimum approach is chosen with cost estimates, then the best way to fund the project can be selected, and the desired timeline estimated. The sooner you take these earlier steps, the more likely you will qualify for grants, or to participate in the 3M/Dupont Settlements.
Is there help available?
As you have questions and are developing a plan, the following resources offer free advice and/or services:
Washington State Department of Health (especially your regional engineer).
Evergreen Rural Water of Washington.
Rural Community Assistance Corporation.
These organizations are able to provide advice, explain some of the funding programs, and may be able to get you started and point you to guidance documents if you want to develop a Small Water System Management Program and/or start an analysis of various alternatives on your own.
To get the mitigation (new well, treatment, or an inter-tie, etc) approved by DOH, you will eventually need to hire the services of a professional engineer. Most engineering firms that work in drinking water can also help with planning documents, analyses of alternatives, grant/loan applications, and other related services.
Northwest Water Systems specializes in assisting small water systems. We understand that small water systems do not have the budgets and resources of large cities and seek solutions that utilize as much of your existing infrastructure as possible and size components appropriate to the size of your water system. If we are the best fit for you, NWS is happy to provide as little or as much help as you need along the way. We can “do everything” to complete the analysis to determine the best option, SWSMP, grant application, and final design and paperwork so that the entire process is “hands off”, or we can work alongside you and provide assistance with only those items you don’t want to do yourself.
NWS manages over 700 small water systems. Because at least 44 of them have had PFAS detections, we have endeavored to develop the best small water system PFAS expertise in Washington State. If you would like to visit with us more, please contact Lydia (email@example.com, 360-876-0958x108) in western Washington or Todd (firstname.lastname@example.org, 509-934-5250) in eastern Washington.