Washougal’s six wells have’slightly elevated levels’ of PFAS

WASHOUGAL – The city of Washougal detected a slight increase in harmful “forever chemical” levels in its drinking waters.

During routine tests between February and April, city employees found levels of perfluoroalkyls — also known as PFAS and forever chemicals — in each of the six wellheads of the city.

PFAS is a grouping of synthetic chemicals that are widely used in household products. They break down very slowly.

The EPA established a maximum contaminant level of 4 parts per trillion for two prominent PFAS: perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoic sulfonate.

At least one time during testing, the levels of contaminants in the water of the city were above the EPA maximum contaminant limit but below the Washington State Action Level (15 parts per trillion).

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PFAS is linked to a number of health risks including decreased fertility and increased blood pressure in pregnancy. It has also been associated with developmental delays among children and an increased risk for prostate, kidney, and testicular tumors.

The Post-Record repeatedly asked for comments from Washougal Public Works director Trevor Evers. However, he did not reply. Instead, he stated in a city news release that the “health and safety of our citizens are our top priority.”

Evers stated that “we have taken immediate measures to ensure that our drinking water is safe and in compliance with regulatory standards.” The city is also investigating interim measures such as testing water quality and monitoring it, evaluating technologies to remove PFAS and determining the extent of PFAs present in groundwater.

In the press release, City Manager David Scott stated that “We are committed” to transparency and communication with residents. The community will receive regular updates on PFAS test results and our ongoing efforts in addressing this issue.

Washougal, Washington is not the only city in Southwest Washington to have found PFAS contamination of its water system.

Since 2022, the city of Camas — one of the first Washington communities to test its drinking water system for PFAS — found levels that exceeded the state’s 15-parts-per-trillion limit in at least one of its wells. Camas shuts down Well 13 near Louis Bloch Park in downtown during the non-summer, when demand for water is low. The city notifies the public once the well is turned back on.

Residents of Camas and Washougal can learn more about PFASs and the local efforts to combat them. The City of Camas, in collaboration with the Washington State Department of Ecology and Clark County Public Health, will host an Open House from 5:30-7 p.m. on Tuesday at Lacamas Lake Lodge (227 N.E. Lake Road, Camas.