Updates on Water PFOS & PFOA Issue: EPA Statement, Meeting Notes & Active Petition

Since Glenside Local’s last story on August 3, the water in Abington and Cheltenham there have been a few updates. To recap Aqua’s North Hills well was closed after showing markedly higher PFOS + PFOA levels than other area water sources, which served both the Abington and Upper Dublin sections of that neighborhood. There was a meeting convened on August 2 by State Rep. Dean, at Antioch Baptist Church in North Hills. Representatives from Aqua—specifically Aqua PA CEO Marc Lucca and Aqua America Chief Environmental Officer Dr. Christopher Crockett—and the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) were present, but the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) only took notes, and didn’t present information or answer questions.

Commissioner John Spiegelman, WARD 11 shared comments and questions from residents during the meeting and from conversations with the Aqua reps afterwards. Ward 6 Commissioner Mike Thompson, who represents the North Hills section of Abington, took detailed notes at this meeting that can be read HERE.

Several days after the North Hills meeting, State Rep. Steve McCarter (who represents the neighboring 154th Legislative District) convened a similar meeting at Cheltenham High School. At that meeting an EPA, a representative read a statement that can be viewed HERE. THE EPA also released a text statement, which you can read HERE. At this meeting Aqua provided the following handout with an overview of which sections of area municipalities are served by which of its water sources:

In 2017, State Rep. Madeleine  Dean (D-156) and Senator Tom Killion (R-9) and other representatives introduced and reintroduced legislation  (HB) 705 to compel Pennsylvania water suppliers to get the combined PFOS + PFOA concentration of PA drinking water down to undetectable levels, (closer to CDC standards) regardless of  the current EPA Health Advisory Level.

There is legislation to combat this via of PA House Bill 705. The proposed legislation is sitting in the PA House Environmental Resources & Energy Committee, which is chaired by State Rep. John Maher. At the August Board of Commissioners unanimously adopted Resolutions 18-034 (view HERE), urging the Pennsylvania Legislature to pass , which would require Pennsylvania water suppliers to provide water with effectively non-detectable combined levels of PFOS + PFOS per the most current detection techniques, at or below 5ppt (parts per trillion).

If the proposed legislation HB 705 can’t get out of committee, then it can’t make its way to the floor of the General Assembly for a vote. This committee is chaired by State Rep. John Maher (40th Legislative District) can allow HB 705 to move to the floor for a full General Assembly vote. Rep. Maher can be reached via his Harrisburg office at 717-783-1522, his district office (in Upper St. Clair Township, Allegheny County) at 412-831-8080, and the e-mail contact form HERE.

In addition, there is a Change.org petition HERE urging passage of HB 705. Moreover, State Senator Art Haywood plans to introduce an equivalent of HB 705 in the PA State Senate.

Commissioner Spiegelman, Commissioner Thompson and Ward 3 Commissioner Drew Rothman have reached out directly to Aqua to urge them to begin the process of engineering and installing the necessary filtration systems now. Commissioner Thompson’s exchanges with Aqua included sending the notes from the Antioch Baptist Church meeting, see Aqua’s response HERE. Commissioner Spiegelman reached out to Dr. Crockett and Mr. Lucca to make the case for immediate filtration via email ad that email exchange can be read HERE.

“The bottom line is this: Clean, safe drinking water is not only a life-essential resource but also our guaranteed right under the Pennsylvania Constitution, and my colleagues and I will continue to work with our representatives at the state and federal levels, environmental activists, local residents, and anyone else to make sure that clean and safe drinking is exactly what we get from our faucets and fountains, said Commissioner Spiegelman,

At the end of August, Aqua is hosting a follow-up meeting with municipal officials and managers  Abington, Upper Dublin, Cheltenham and Springfield. Commissioner Spiegelman will be submitting residents’ questions beforehand for Aqua representatives to to answer. Please send Commissioner Spiegelman questions via e-mail to spiegs@abington.org) by this Friday, August 24.