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Pico Rivera Taking Final Steps to Remove PFAS from Water

April 15, 2023

Pico Rivera is taking the final steps in bringing safer water to its residents with the installation of Water Treatment Vessels at the city’s water plants.

Last month, eight Water Treatment Vessels were installed at two of the city’s water plants, with more vessels coming this year. 

The Water Treatment Vessels were installed in response to the state’s mandatory monitoring requirement that went into effect in 2019, and the testing for perfluoroctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluoroctanoic acid (PFOA), or forever chemicals, in the groundwater supply. 

These compounds are used extensively in consumer products such as carpets, clothing, furniture fabric, food packaging, nonstick cookware, and firefighting foams.

Pico Rivera was among several cities and communities in Southern California facing the same issue with their water supply, including Downey, Montebello, San Gabriel, Bellflower Norwalk, Santa Clarita, La Habra Heights, and Riverside.

As the updated guidelines were announced, the city has been notifying affected customers of the presence of PFOS and PFOA in the drinking water but has not had to shut down any of the city’s wells due to the fact that the levels detected are still within the limits of safe deliverable water. 

As a result of the state guidelines, like many area cities and water agencies, city officials have been working to find solutions to eliminate this chemical in the city’s water supply.

Beginning in July 2020, the city adopted a Water Master Plan to address the water quality and treatment needs, including the treatment for PFOS and PFOA chemicals. Later in November 2020, the first major steps were taken when the design contract for a water treatment system was awarded for all of the city’s water treatment facilities.

Since then, the city’s treatment facilities have undergone several improvements, including electrical upgrades in order to accommodate the necessary equipment needed to filter out PFOS and PFOA chemicals from the drinking water supply.

While the sites were getting upgrades, city staff was actively looking for funding sources to help offset the costs of implementing a new filtration system. Grants worth over $8 million were secured through the Water Replenishment District and Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez.

With funding secured, the city moved on with its master plan, and last month that plan started to come to fruition. A total of eight Water Treatment Vessels were installed at two of the city’s plants, with six more planned to be installed later this month. 

“We understand the importance of delivering clean water to our residents,” said City Manager Steve Carmona. “With the funding that was secured thanks to the WRD and Congresswoman Linda T. Sánchez, we were able to carry out this important project for our residents, and we are pleased to see it’s nearing completion.”

With the water treatment vessels now in place, electrical work now needs to be completed before the filters start working. The project is expected to be completed by Summer 2023 with all the installed filters up and running.

For more information about this project, call the city’s Public Works Department at 562.801.4421.