Source Of Most Recent Lake Arrowhead Water Contamination Challenge Unknown

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances – commonly referred to as PFAS, have turned up in the Lake Arrowhead water supply.
Also known as perfluorochemicals or PCFs, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances are compounds with water-repellent and oil-repellent properties. They are used in the production of both industrial and everyday household products such as stain-resistant carpets and furniture, waterproof clothing, shoes and outdoor gear, cosmetics and personal care products, food packaging, firefighting foam, cleaning products, industrial surfactants and non-stick cookware. They are commonly used in the aerospace, construction and electronics and in military and firefighting contexts.
Referred to as “forever chemicals,” PFAS chemicals don’t break down easily over time and are water soluble. Scientists, environmentalists and health professionals have concerns these chemicals could build to levels that could result in environmental and human health harm.
If absorbed by humans or animals in substantial or threshold quantities, they can alter the metabolisms of humans and animals, impact fertility, reduce fetal growth, decrease birth weight, cause changes in liver enzymes and increase the risk of obesity, increase the risk of certain cancers, impact immune response, increase cholesterol levels, decrease vaccine response in children and increase the risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women.
In a press release dated November 17, the Lake Arrowhead Community Services District stated, “recent sample results have detected trace amounts of a class of chemicals referred to as PFAS. The amount of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances detected in the Lake Arrowhead Community Services District’s drinking water is very small but safe levels of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances have not yet been established. Detecting a contaminant does not mean that the water is harmful to drink. The Lake Arrowhead Community Services District is taking preemptive action to reduce the levels of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances and will ensure that the drinking water complies with the regulations once they are set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of California. These agencies have been studying the health effects of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances to determine the safe limits of exposure. The Environmental Protection Agency’s lifetime health advisory includes a margin of protection that takes into account exposure from other sources. For this reason, the Environmental Protection Agency wants to eliminate all perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances from drinking water sources so the proposed regulatory limits will be set at very low levels. This is a challenge that many water agencies are facing across the country.”
According to the press release, “The water the Lake Arrowhead Community Services District serves is mostly from Lake Arrowhead, with a lesser amount from groundwater wells and imported water. It is not immediately clear where the perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substance chemicals are coming from since our area has very little industry and the water is sourced solely by precipitation and runoff. Unfortunately, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances are found everywhere and comes from products that are resistant to heat, water and oil such as firefighting foam, textiles, detergents, and items with stain and water-resistant coatings.”
The press release states that “It takes a full year of testing to determine the levels of PFAS but the Lake Arrowhead Community Services District is not waiting for the complete results. We are working swiftly to evaluate the best options to remove these chemicals from the drinking water supply. At the same time, we will continue to study the watershed to identify and eradicate the source(s). Preliminary investigations suggest that Lake Arrowhead has higher levels of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances than the groundwater supply does. What can our customers do? While the water is safe to drink, concerned citizens might consider installing water filters in their homes. Water filters are always recommended due to unknown conditions in home plumbing and many of these filters can also remove perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances.”
Household water filtration methods that can extend to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances include water filters in various categories, some of which can remove up to 95 percent of PFAS. These include affordable pitcher-style filters, countertop reverse osmosis filtration devices, countertop distiller devices, countertop gravity-fed filters, under-sink and whole-home filters, whole home filters for well water and shower filters.
In its press release, the Lake Arrowhead Community Services District sought to address the subject of the safety of swimming in the lake or showering in the water the district is providing.
“The Environmental Protection Agency states that only a small amount of PFAS can get into your body through your skin,” according to the press release. “Therefore, showering, bathing, and washing dishes in water containing PFAS are unlikely to significantly increase your risk. The amount of PFAS in Lake Arrowhead is very small and, because it is not readily absorbed by the skin, it is safe for swimming.”
There have been problems with contamination of Lake Arrowhead previously.
More than two-and-a-half decades ago, an operator at the Lake Arrowhead Marina disposed of hundreds of batteries by dropping them to the bottom of the lake.
In 2015, a fuel spill contaminated Lake Arrowhead when a pipe that delivered fuel from two 10,000 gallon underground storage tanks to a nearby pumping station ruptured near the marina.
Information available to the Sentinel indicates that there is a range of contaminants in Lake Arrowhead. Those above the legal limits set by the State of California and the Environtal Protection Agency include radioactive alpha particle activity at an average level of 34.23 picocuries per liter and a maximum level of 140 picocuries per liter; a combined uranium reading of 40.47 picocuries per liter on average and a maximum of 160 picocuries per liter; and total trihalomethanes at an average of 32.46 parts per billion and a maximum of 131.4 parts per billion.
Contaminants below legal limits, but above health guidelines include radium-228, coming in at an average of 0.15 picocuries per liter and a maximum of 0.96 picocuries per liter and trichloroacetic acid, which registered at an average of 7.19 parts per billion, with a maximum reading of 24.6 parts per billion. Contaminants that are present in Lake Arrowhead’s water at levels considered to be within health guidelines and legal limits include aluminum, bromodichloromethane, bromoform, chloroform, dibromoacetic acid, dibromochloromethane, dichloroacetic acid, manganese, monobromoacetic acid, monochloroacetic acid, toluene and total haloacetic acids.

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