The City of Moses Lake is taking action after the discovery of unwanted chemicals in its domestic water system.

The substances were found after water from several of the City's wells was tested.

"We tested the wells and four of them came back with detections for certain chemicals," explained the City's Water Division manager Chad Strevy. "They all came back below the state of Washington's advisory level but they are however, over the proposed thresholds from the EPA."

The substances, which are known as per-and polyfluoroalkyls (PFAS), are thought to have entered the water system through the use of fire retardant foams at a former U.S. Air Force base in the area which is now part of a federal superfund remediation site known as the Moses Lake Wellfield.

The City conducted the groundwater tests which revealed the chemicals as part of ongoing efforts by the EPA to monitor and decontaminate the site.

After making the discovery, the City halted its use of water from the wells in question and began diverting water from other wells within its network.

Strevy says taking the wells offline is creating some issues for the City.

"Right now, our challenges are providing enough water for our residents. It is hot outside and we're having challenges meeting daily demands."

The City is working to implement a filtration and treatment system that would allow the closed wells to operate within suggested EPA guidelines in the near future, and is also exploring the potential use of alternative water sources.

PFAS break down slowly and can build up in humans, animals, and the environment over time. They are used in a wide variety of industrial and commercial products, but some studies contend long-term exposure to products containing them can cause health issues.

The EPA released its proposed standards for allowable levels of PFAS in domestic water earlier this year and plans to officially adopt those recommendations by the end of 2023.

Until the levels of PFAS can be attenuated in the City's water system, residents are being advised to limit their use of water for irrigation, make certain there are no leaks in their home's plumbing, take shorter showers, and turn off faucets while performing tasks such as shaving or brushing of teeth.

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