PFAS Part III — Strategies

By Mike Ekberg, manager of water resources monitoring and analysis

In Part I, we looked at what per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances, or PFAS, are and why you should care. In Part II, we looked at their presence in local drinking water. In this final post, we look at the strategies for dealing with PFAS.

Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances or PFAS are a group of manufactured chemicals widely used in consumer products such as cookware, paper wrappers for fast food, stain repellants, and fire-fighting foams. These chemicals gained widespread attention nationally as well as locally when they began to be detected in the drinking water of some public water systems.

A lack of a cohesive nationwide approach for determining appropriate PFAS levels and actions has resulted in a wide range of state standards for different PFAS compounds. This adds to the confusion for consumers trying to determine how much PFAS in their drinking water is safe.

Three strategies for dealing with emerging contaminants
It’s likely that chemicals, such as PFAS, originating from consumer products will continue to be detected in natural waters as well as treated drinking water. It’s also likely that as consumers of public drinking water, we will continue to prefer that these types of chemicals not be present in our drinking water. With that in mind, here are three strategies that could help.

Credit: ept.ca/features/environmental-compliance-new-tsca/

1. Study chemicals in the marketplace and replace toxic substances with less toxic alternatives

It’s estimated that approximately 2,000 new chemicals are introduced into the U.S. market each year. Few of these chemicals are evaluated for their toxicity and potential environmental impacts in a timely manner.

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) requires USEPA to evaluate new chemicals for safety, but historically, the agency did not have the necessary authority or resources to keep up with this task.

Congress recognized these deficiencies and, in 2016, it passed the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. The act made some important improvements to the process for ensuring safety of chemicals in the marketplace.

Key provisions of the act:

  • Mandates safety reviews for chemicals in active commerce.
  • Requires a safety finding for new chemicals before they can enter the market.
  • Replaces TSCA’s burdensome, cost-benefit safety standard—which prevented the EPA from banning asbestos—with a pure, health-based safety standard.
  • Explicitly requires protection of vulnerable populations like children and pregnant women.

The act, however, only required USEPA to begin risk evaluations on 20 chemicals within the first three–and-a-half years of its implementation. Twenty is a very small number when compared to the number of new chemicals entering the market each year. If we can reduce or prevent chemicals that have a high potential of impacting water quality from entering the marketplace, we will have done our water resources a great service.

2. Source water protection is more important than ever

All too often decisions about how to develop land over sensitive aquifers and in close proximity to municipal wellfields are made without appropriate consideration about how the development and activities taking place on that development could impact water quality.

As consumers of public drinking water, we expect that our local governments and public water utilities engage in vigorous efforts to protect their supply of water. This means that economic development plans and activities must align with protection of our source of drinking water.

This alignment implies that some areas over sensitive water resources are not suitable for certain types of development that could pollute or threaten good water quality. A well thought out and proactive source water protection plan is the key to making this happen.

Granular activated carbon Credit: wilsonemi.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/gac-beaker.jpeg

3. Investment in advanced water treatment may be needed

Public expectations often drive investment in new technologies. As new analytical methods lower thresholds for detecting contaminants, water utilities and regulatory agencies will have to deal with the discovery of new chemicals in water. While the concentrations may be extremely small, community members will most likely feel safer if these chemicals are not found in their drinking water.

Water utilities may be faced with the decision to provide advanced water treatment, such as membrane filtration and granular activated carbon filtration, but this level of treatment can be expensive and could raise water rates.

MCD – Helping our region to be water resilient
The Miami Conservancy District (MCD) is committed to helping our region successfully respond to the water challenges that chemicals such as PFAS present to the water resiliency of our communities.

At the request of Congressman Mike Turner, MCD and a group of community and business leaders retained a consultant to assess the City of Dayton’s public water system and all interconnected utilities.

MCD is also working with the United States Geological Survey to evaluate the occurrence of PFAS in groundwater outside of the Dayton metro area. These efforts will help our region protect water for now and into the future.

Part II — PFAS and our water

In Part I, we looked at what per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances, or PFAS, are and why you should care. In Part II, we look at the impact to our drinking water.

Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances or PFAS are a group of manufactured chemicals widely used in consumer products such as cookware, pizza boxes, stain repellants, and fire-fighting foams. These chemicals gained widespread attention nationally as well as locally when they began to be detected in the drinking water of some public water systems.

New analytical methods open a Pandora’s Box
Over the past couple of decades, new analytical techniques have emerged that make it possible to detect contaminants in water at concentrations as low as parts per trillion. The emergence of these new analytical methods led to the discovery of previously undetectable contaminants in natural waters as well as treated drinking water.

Because of these new capabilities, the scientific community began to discover many of the chemicals that are used in common household consumer products, as well as in pharmaceuticals, were also present at low concentrations in many rivers, streams, and aquifers all over the world. Some of these chemicals were also detected in treated drinking water.

PFAS was one of the groups of these chemicals detected in both natural waters and treated drinking water. The discovery of previously undetectable contaminants in drinking water has prompted questions by public water system operators nationwide. How do you communicate health risks for a contaminant when there is no regulated drinking water standard with which to compare? Does the public expect that none of these compounds will be present in drinking water? How does everyday exposure to these compounds from consumer products compare to exposure from drinking water?

PFAS present in the waters of the Miami Valley
PFAS is here, too. Rivers and streams in the Miami Valley likely contain low levels of some PFAS compounds. Studies have shown that most municipal wastewater effluent contains low levels of PFAS. (Margot, J., Ross, L., Barry, D.A., and Holliger, C., 2015)

A study conducted by MCD in 2010 and 2011 found low levels of the PFAS compound PFOS present in 22 out of 31 river, stream, and aquifer sampling sites. The same study also found PFOS in two out of two wastewater treatment plant outfalls sampled.

More recently, PFAS compounds were detected in the treated drinking water at Wright Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB) and at the City of Dayton. According to the Dayton Daily News (March 11, 2020), the PFAS is thought to have originated from the use of foams during fire-fighting training activities. PFAS from the foams may have leached into the underlying aquifer and traveled to nearby water supply wells. PFAS concentrations at WPAFB were high enough that a granular activated carbon filtration system was required to reduce concentrations to acceptable levels. Meanwhile the levels of PFAS in the Dayton public water system have remained low enough that additional treatment has not been necessary.

Federal and state regulatory agencies struggle to coordinate PFAS response
Determining consistent health guidelines for levels of PFAS in drinking water has been a struggle for federal and state regulatory agencies. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) published its PFAS action plan in February 2019. Under the plan, USEPA committed to developing maximum contaminant levels for two commonly detected PFAS compounds, PFOA and PFOS. The agency will also designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances and begin a national monitoring program to examine the occurrence of PFAS compounds in drinking water.

Prior to the federal PFAS action plan, some states elected to set their own drinking water standards for PFAS as public pressure to do something about these contaminants mounted. Ohio EPA adopted the USEPA health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion. Ohio also developed a PFAS action plan for drinking water in December 2019. The objectives in include:

  • Gather and provide sampling data from specific types of public water systems to determine if PFAS is present in raw and finished drinking water.
  • Assist private water system owners with guidelines and resources to identify and respond to potential PFAS contamination.
  • Establish action levels for drinking water systems in Ohio to aid in appropriately responding to PFAS contamination for the protection of public health.

More information on the Ohio PFAS action plan for drinking water is available at https://epa.ohio.gov/pfas.

In PFAS Part III we’ll look at strategies for dealing with PFAS.

References
Margot, J., Ross, L., Barry, D.A., and Holliger, C., 2015. A review of the fate of
micropollutants in wastewater treatment plants. 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.,
WIREs Water 2015. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1090.

Ismail Turay, Jr., (2020), ‘Ohio EPA to begin testing for ‘forever’ chemicals in drinking water,’ Dayton Daily News, 11 March.

PFAS Part I — the forever chemicals

By Mike Ekberg, manager of water resource monitoring and analysis

You’ve probably heard about PFAS, but what are they and why are they such a hot topic today?

Amazing chemicals
PFAS or per- and polyflouroalkyl substances are a group of chemicals developed in the 1940s that can repel water, dirt, and grease; tolerate high temperatures; make fabrics stain resistant; and can be used to extinguish fires. They are nearly indestructible and last for a really long time. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there are nearly 5,000 PFAS compounds in existence today.

Widely used in consumer products
PFAS are widely used in consumer products such as cookware, pizza boxes and stain repellants. The properties of PFAS make them well suited for the creation of nonstick cookware surfaces, water resistant fabrics, stain resistant carpets, and for use in some firefighting foams. These products are popular with consumers but the PFAS chemicals used in their production are bad for the environment.

 

Credit: Grand Valley State University http://www.gvsu.edu/pfas/

PFAS are bad news for the environment
Unfortunately, some of the same properties that make PFAS valuable in manufacturing, make them bad news for clean air, soil and water. The chemical bonds that hold PFAS molecules together make them highly resistant to breaking down in the natural environment. Once they get into soil and water, they persist for very long periods of time. Because PFAS are so persistent, they can buildup (bioaccumulate) in fish and wildlife. They can also accumulate in the blood and serum of people. Studies have shown that low levels of PFAS are commonly present in municipal wastewater sludge and effluent as well in many rivers and streams where treated or untreated human sewage is discharged. The issue of PFAS in the environment is not going to go away anytime soon.

Widespread exposure to PFAS in the U.S. population
Humans can be exposed to PFAS by consuming PFAS-contaminated food and water or by using products that contain PFAS.

Studies have shown widespread exposure of PFAS in humans. (link to study Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, Updated Tables). Yet, no one knows for sure the effects on human health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Human health effects uncertain
Studies of laboratory animals given large doses of PFAS have found that some PFAS may affect growth and development, reproduction, thyroid function, the immune system, and injure the liver. Epidemiologic studies have examined a number of health effects and associated exposure to some PFAS compounds with the following:

  • High cholesterol
  • Increased liver enzymes
  • Decreased vaccination response
  • Cancer
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Adverse reproductive and developmental effects

Nonetheless, more research is needed to better assess human health effects from exposure to PFAS. For more information on human health related effects of PFAS and what people can do to minimize exposure to these compounds visit Ohio EPA’s PFAS webpage.

PFAS what’s next?
Science is working to better understand how PFAS interacts with the human body and what levels of exposure are safe. Meanwhile industry is phasing out certain PFAS chemicals and replacing them with others. Whether these new PFAS compounds are safer is unknown.

A lack of coherent policies and standards for PFAS in drinking water at the federal level has, in many cases, led to state regulatory agencies adopting their own standards. This has led to a hodgepodge of different drinking water standards for various PFAS chemicals across the country.

Public water systems with PFAS in their source water find themselves in the unenviable position of having to make decisions without federal guidance as to which standards they should apply and what treatment options are most cost effective and ensure consumer safety. The way forward on this issue remains a work in progress.

Most manufactured chemicals we use end up in the environment
Perhaps the most striking point in dealing with the issue of PFAS in the environment is these compounds are a reminder to us all that most manufactured chemicals we use as consumers end up in the natural environment in one way or another.

Our consumer-driven society creates strong incentives to create new chemical compounds in manufacturing and industry each year. Yet, our knowledge of the ultimate fate of these compounds and their potential impacts on human health and the environment is often sorely lacking.

In Part II,  I’ll take a closer look at the issue of PFAS in source waters for public drinking water systems and how this issue is being addressed at the national, state, and local levels.

Where does the Miami Valley get its water?

MCD has created a new series of videos about the importance of water. Many people in the Miami Valley don’t know where our water comes from, how it’s replenished or the ways water is used beyond our daily life activities. They don’t know what an aquifer is or how it works. Or how many industries rely on groundwater and how high-quality water helps drive our economy.

We created these videos to explain all of that and more. Help us spread the word by sharing this first video with friends and family. The more people know about the aquifer, the more they will care about it and our water.

Together, we can protect our water.

 

Water Stewardship Summary Report 2012-2019

MCD has released a new report on Water Stewardship that discusses the region’s water challenges and how communities can take action and build resiliency to address those challenges..

Mike Ekberg, MCD manager of water resources monitoring and analysis, and Sarah Hippensteel Hall, manager of watershed partnerships, are currently visiting county commissions and key stakeholders to present the report and ask for input. They are highlighting the work of all three of MCD’s mission areas—flooding protection, water stewardship and recreation—but focusing primarily on water stewardship issues.

Your input through our short survey will help shape our work plan and ensure we are meeting your community’s water concerns and challenges.

Southwest Ohio – Ready to be hub of water research and technology

By Mike Ekberg, manager of water resources monitoring and analysis

Our region is ready to be the hub of water knowledge and know-how.

Initiatives are under way in southwest Ohio to position our region as a leader in water research and technology development to help deal with world water challenges such as scarcity and contamination.

One of the newest initiatives, The University of Cincinnati’s CV Theis (pronounced Tice) Groundwater Observatory, is working to capitalize on our region’s most important natural resource – water – and the availability of local scientific talent.

Recently, the observatory was designated as part of The Worldwide Hydrobiogeochemical Observatory Network for Dynamic River Systems (WHONDRS). WHONDRS is a consortium of researchers and other interested parties that aims to understand how rivers and aquifers interact and how the interactions impact water quality and aquatic life.

Being part of WHONDRS “will increase (the observatory’s) visibility and utilization by researchers worldwide,” says Dr. David B. Nash, emeritus professor of the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Geology.

A technician works on the central pylon which stores and transmits data collected by sensors at the Theis observatory.

 

A Field Laboratory

Imagine if we could peer into the ground and watch water move from the river into the aquifer and vice versa. The Theis Groundwater Observatory, a field laboratory for studying water, lets scientists do just that.

The observatory is situated on the bank of the Great Miami River in western Hamilton County and is well equipped to monitor how the aquifer responds to changes in river flow. This research can lead to better understanding of:

  • How water movement into and out of the aquifer changes as the river rises and falls.
  • The impact of floods on water quality in the aquifer.
  • How contaminants from the river are filtered by the aquifer.
  • How bacterial processes degrade contaminants in the aquifer.

The knowledge that scientists gain at the observatory will enhance community efforts to protect the groundwater that is used for drinking water.

Since the observatory was dedicated in late 2017, the University of Cincinnati hired a faculty member with expertise in groundwater modeling. That person is now teaching a new undergraduate course using the data collected from the observatory.

Both undergraduate and graduate students have started working on projects at the observatory. In addition, water professionals from regional universities and businesses have visited the observatory and have discussed the possibility of collaborative research projects.

 

The observatory is sponsored by a collaboration of organizations including The Miami Conservancy District, the Duke Energy Foundation, Great Parks of Hamilton County, and the University of Cincinnati.

Groundwater Guardian Green Sites — an ounce of prevention

By Sarah Hippensteel Hall, Ph.D., manager for watershed partnerships

Most of us go to some lengths to protect our health. We may have an annual physical to catch issues early because we know how hard it can be to fix something once it’s broken.

The same is true of our aquifer – the underground source of this region’s drinking water.

Unlike a heart that can be transplanted, we can’t replace the aquifer. Once it’s broken (contaminated), it can be enormously expensive to fix and sometimes can be beyond repair.

An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure – and more – when it comes to the aquifer.

That’s why the Goundwater Guardian Green Site designation is a program we actively encourage for groups within our 4,000-square-mile Great Miami River Watershed.

Green Site designation helps promote and protect our groundwater by recognizing organizations that are good groundwater stewards and encouraging them to install more groundwater-friendly practices.

MCD sponsors organizations that apply for Green Site designation, pays their Green Site administrative fees for two years, and reimburses organizations up to $2,000 for installing new groundwater-friendly practices.

MCD encourages new projects that protect groundwater and are located over the Buried Valley Aquifer, are located near source water areas, show measurable results, and function over a long period of time.

Share your ground-water friendly practices

The Green Site program recognizes efforts to implement, measure, and document groundwater-friendly practices related to chemical use, water use, pollution prevention, and more. Green spaces, including nature centers, education campuses, parks, golf courses, and farms have been designated Green Sites by the Groundwater Foundation

To be eligible, land managers document the environmental impact of their groundwater-friendly practices, such as:

  • Pounds of fertilizer saved annually by using hardier plants.
  • Gallons of water saved annually by using drought-tolerant plant materials.
  • Amounts of toxic substances disposed of properly, and other related items.

The Groundwater Foundation first named MCD a Groundwater Guardian Green Site in 2010. MCD’s designation covers all of its dams and flood protection features in the cities it protects, covering more than 1,780 acres.

Since 2011, MCD has assisted many communities in earning Green Site designations. Won’t you join us?

Contact me at shippensteel@mcdwater.org with questions or if you need help completing the application.

Refreshing, replenishing…and our responsiblity

There’s nothing like a tall, cool glass of water when you’re hot and thirsty (despite this week’s cold, you will be hot again). But, do you know where your drinking water comes from?

If you live in the Miami Valley, chances are your water comes from the buried valley aquifer.

When it comes to water, our region’s buried valley aquifer is truly world class.

The buried valley aquifer:

  • Is the sole source of drinking water for 2.3 million people in our region.
  • Has water that typically is much cleaner than water in local rivers and streams because the sand and gravel in the aquifer act as a natural filter, removing contaminants.
  • Can yield as much as 3,000 gallons of water per minute in some wells.
  • Provides water for :
    • Industry, including the production of beer, pharmaceuticals and steel among other products.
    • Food production.
    • Crop irrigation.
    • Geothermal energy.
    • Sand and gravel aggregate for construction.
  • Consists of sand and gravel material deposited by rivers draining melting glaciers that disappeared from our region about 18,000 years ago.

Plentiful but vulnerable

Some of the reasons the buried valley aquifer is a good source of drinking water also make it vulnerable to contamination. Once an aquifer becomes polluted, it’s very difficult and expensive to clean up.

  • Because the aquifer is so porous, chemicals that are applied or spilled on the land can seep into the groundwater.
  • The water in rivers and streams helps recharge the aquifer at times, but can also provide a way for contamination to interact with groundwater.

That’s why it’s so important to prevent contamination. Here are a few suggestions from the Groundwater Foundation how you can help protect our region’s aquifer:

Reduce Chemical Use – Use fewer chemicals around your home and yard. Dispose of them properly. Don’t pour them on the ground or down the storm drain.

Manage Waste – Properly dispose of potentially toxic substances like unused chemicals, pharmaceuticals, paint, motor oil, and other substances. Many communities hold household hazardous waste collections or sites. Contact your local solid waste district to find one near you.

Use Natural Alternatives – Use all natural/nontoxic household cleaners whenever possible. Materials such as lemon juice, baking soda, and vinegar make great cleaning products, are inexpensive, and aquifer-friendly.

 

Changes in groundwater levels?

By Mike Ekberg, Manager for Water Resources Monitoring and Analysis

Groundwater levels in the aquifer beneath downtown Dayton fluctuate throughout the year. Locally, groundwater levels often peak in winter or spring and decline to their annual low in the fall. However, we’re seeing changes to the normal up-and-down cycle of groundwater in the aquifer in a couple of downtown wells.

Graphic of depth to groundwater

Groundwater levels fluctuate throughout the year. But the annual low groundwater level at the Apple Street and South Main Street observation well shows a decline over the past 25 years.

The annual low groundwater levels in two downtown observation wells are showing a distinct downward trend, declining as much as 25 feet over the past 10 years. In fact, recent groundwater levels at both wells tend to be below monthly normals for much of the year. What’s causing the drop?

Geothermal systems may be the reason
An increase in geothermal heating and cooling systems in Dayton may be the cause. In the last 15 years or so, several buildings in downtown Dayton installed open loop geothermal systems. Open loop systems pull groundwater from high-capacity wells —tied to the aquifer beneath Dayton—to create heat and air conditioning.

If too many geothermal systems draw water from the same area, that could cause a significant drop in average groundwater levels. That’s happening now in these two wells in downtown Dayton. And yet, these wells—and the Dayton area–still have plenty of groundwater

Water supply safe
Is the aquifer going to go dry? Not likely. The buried valley aquifer, which stores this region’s groundwater, holds 1.5 trillion gallons of water. That said, in areas where a lot of groundwater is pulled from the aquifer, it’s possible for one well to cause another well to go dry. This situation is most likely to occur during summer months when water demand for cooling systems peak.

MCD tracks groundwater levels at more than 100 monitoring wells in the region. The City of Dayton tracks groundwater levels at more than 300 monitoring wells throughout its well fields and within the aquifer. City officials say their well field areas are not impacted by the pumping of groundwater downtown.

Can geothermal systems continue to be a workable option for Dayton buildings? Yes, provided there’s a plan to balance the number of systems and well locations.

Better water planning prevents problems
Steps to ensure this balance include:

  1. Inventory high-capacity geothermal wells in the downtown area.
  2. Fully understand current groundwater levels throughout the area.
  3. Assess the potential impact of new geothermal wells on existing wells and storm sewers.
  4. Site wells strategically.

With these steps, Dayton—and other cities—can ensure existing geothermal systems will not be harmed by adding new systems, and all the systems will be sustainable.

 

Where’s the best tasting water in the world? Hamilton, Ohio, of course

By Mike Ekberg, water resources manager

The City of Hamilton has created the best tasting water in the world using groundwater from the Great Miami River Buried Valley Aquifer. The city received the gold medal for Best Municipal Water at the 25th anniversary Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting in West Virginia held in February.

What is this “aquifer” anyway?

Think of the Great Miami Buried Valley Aquifer as a giant container with porous sand and gravel that can trap and hold water. Have you ever poured a bucket of water into sand? The sand absorbs the water quickly and it disappears from sight. A sand and gravel aquifer soaks up water in a similar way.

Where is it and where did it come from?

The buried valley aquifer generally underlies the Great Miami River and major tributaries such as the Stillwater and Mad rivers and Twin Creek.  The sand and gravel deposits that make up the buried valley aquifer were deposited by ancient rivers that existed before the present day Great Miami River took shape. These ancient rivers carried large amounts of water from melting glaciers during the end of the last ice age.

Map showing the location of the buried valley aquifer (light blue) in relation to the Great Miami River drainage area.

Map showing the location of the buried valley aquifer (light blue) in relation to the Great Miami River drainage area.

How much water?

The buried valley aquifer is the most productive aquifer in the Great Miami River Watershed. Municipal drinking water wells, like the city of Hamilton’s, can sometimes yield more than 3,000 gallons per minute. In comparison, there are many places in Ohio where wells can produce no more than 25 gallons per minute and often fewer.

Large groundwater yields are possible because:

    • Our region receives abundant annual precipitation in the form of rain and snow which resupplies the buried valley aquifer.
    • The buried valley aquifer is able to absorb large quantities of water quickly.
    • The groundwater in the buried valley aquifer interacts with the water in the Great Miami River and can supply each other with water.
    • Most of the water pumped out of the buried valley aquifer is returned to the Great Miami River Watershed when wastewater is discharged in the streams and rivers. This offsets water losses that occur when some of the water  is pumped out of the aquifer and released into another watershed. For example, groundwater is used in the production of beer, which could be shipped outside the watershed for purchase.
Graphic showing interconnected nature of the buried valley aquifer and the Great Miami River

This graphic shows the interconnected nature of the buried valley aquifer and the Great Miami River. Water normally flows from the aquifer to the river (top), but flows often reverse during floods.

How the aquifer improves our lives

Besides being the main source of drinking water for a majority of communities along the Great Miami River, the buried valley aquifer:

  • Provides our region with a safe and plentiful supply of water that can be treated to drinking water quality standards fairly inexpensively when compared with using water from a rive lake.
The buried valley aquifer is our region’s #1 source of drinking water.

The buried valley aquifer is our region’s #1 source of drinking water.

  • Supplies businesses and industry with a reliable supply of water. For example, the Miller Coors Brewery in Trenton uses water from the buried valley aquifer for its brewing process.
  • Improves the quality of life in the region by providing continuous flow to the Great Miami River even during dry periods. This flow sustains water for fish habitat and makes the Great Miami River attractive for kayaking and rowing. For example, nearly half of the annual water flow in the Great Miami River at the city of Hamilton comes from the buried valley aquifer.
  • Provides potential geothermal heating and cooling opportunities. Groundwater in the buried valley aquifer remains around 56 °F year round and can be used by geothermal heating and cooling systems.

If the water in the aquifer was polluted or depleted, our region would be less resilient in coping with drought conditions, seasonal water shortages might be more commonplace, and communities might have to pay for more expensive treatment to make the groundwater safe for drinking. .

So, while the city of Hamilton’s water received the gold medal at the Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting, it’s clear our buried valley aquifer made the award possible. Yes, our buried valley aquifer is worthy of a top prize.