PFAS testing results are back
PFAS TESTING results have started to come back after the Svensson Heights water supply was found to be contaminated with the chemical two weeks ago.
On April 12 Bundaberg Regional Council received confirmation the water supplied to some of its customers had been contaminated with the compound.
The next day the council broke the news to the community that town water supplied from its Dr Mays Road bore to Svensson Heights residents had the per-and Poly-luoroalkyl substances in it.
As of April 26 there had been three rounds of water test results received from samples collected in the month.
Today the results from a range of environmental samples in the groundwater that supplies part of the town's water network were released.
In 2017 draft drinking water guidelines for PFAS chemicals were published for consultation before they are included as part of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.
The draft drinking water guideline value for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is 0.56 micrograms per litre and for the sum of both perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS) it is 0.07 micrograms per litre..
The Commonwealth Department of Health has established health based guideline values for human exposure to PFAS via recreational water for PFOA of 5.6 micrograms per litre and for PFOS/PFHxS of 0.7 micrograms per litre.
Below are three maps details the results from the tests conducted by the Queensland Health Forensic and Scientific Services.
The third map (Map 3) suggests that the groundwater PFAS contamination is limited from near Dr Mays Road bore northward to near Power St bore.
Only two of the 13 samples taken from these monitoring bores showed any PFAS, both of which were only just above the limited of reporting.
The area and results of the latest round of water samples collected on April 17 and 18 and reported late on April 24.
These samples came from 13 DNRME groundwater monitoring bores located in and around Bundaberg.
The purpose for taking these samples was to estimate whether there was evidence that PFAS contamination extended beyond the known locations close to Dr Mays Bore.
The first map (Map 1) shows the area and results from the first round of water samples collected on April 9 and reported on April 12.
There was 26 waters samples collected during this time, including 11 from reticulated sites, eights council reservoirs and five council drinking water bores.
And two samples which were taken to trial treatment methods to remove the PFAS chemicals from water.
Of the 11 samples taken from customer taps, 9 were taken within the area served by Dr Mays Bore, which is located within the suburb of Svensson Heights.
All of these samples were above the draft drinking water guideline of 0.07 micrograms per litre.
Dr Mays Bore had the highest PFAS reading 0.3micrograms per litre which confirmed that this bore was the source of the elevated readings in Svensson Heights.
Only one other bore sample was above the draft drinking water guideline, namely the Powers Street bore at 0.24 micrograms per litre.
The Powers Street bore supplies the Powers Street reservoir which also recorded elevated PFAS 0.09micrograms per litre.
Water from the Powers Street bore and reservoir is not supplied directly to households.
It is blended with water from a number of other sources and when this is supplied to customers, via the Bourbong Street reservoir, the PFAS level is below the draft drinking water guideline.
The second map (map 2) showed the location and results from the second round of water samples collected on April 16 and reported on April 18.
These samples came from seven surface water locations, six reticulation samples, four council drinking water bores, and two council drinking water reservoirs.
The surface water samples were taken from a number of locations in Salt Water Creek stretching from the Svensson Heights industrial area down to close to the mouth of the creek at Walla Street bridge.
Three of the surface water samples showed low levels of PFAS ranging from 0.02 to 0.04 micrograms per litre, which is well below the draft health guideline level for recreational water (0.7 micrograms per litre).
These three samples were from the upper extent of Salt Water Creek.
Results of the samples taken from near the mouth of Salt Water Creek were below the limit of reporting.
All six tap water samples were taken from the Svensson Heights area and had PFAS levels below the limit of reporting, verifying the benefit from turning off Dr Mays Bore.
Powers Street bore and reservoir still shows PFAS above the drinking water guideline but following blending at Bourbong Street reservoir, the drinking water supplied to customers does not show any PFAS.
All testing was done by the Queensland Health Forensic and Scientific Services (QHFSS) laboratory in Coopers Plains, Brisbane.
While the methods used by QHFSS can identify a wide range of different PFAS chemicals the only ones that were above the draft drinking water guidelines for PFAS were PFOS/PFHxS, and so only those results are shown here.
Further samples have been collected by the Department of Environment and Science to try to identify potential sources of the PFAS releases to the local environment.
The results from this testing will be available shortly.
Bundaberg Regional Council, with support from the Wide Bay Public Health Unit, plans to continue testing the drinking water supplied to customers on a regular basis so that it can be assured that the PFAS levels remain below the draft drinking water guidelines.