New filtration system for Warrington contaminated wells bid for $1.69 million
By Christopher Ullery, staff writer
A new filtration system for three of Warrington's public wells shut down in 2014 for perfluorinated compound contamination could be installed for $1.69 million.
Township supervisors will have to approve the bid awards for the project at a future meeting, but the lowest estimates received as of Thursday afternoon's deadline were from GS Developers for general construction at $1.38 million; MJF Electrical Contracting Inc., for electrical work at $232,000; and Eastern Environmental Contractors Inc., for mechanical work — heating and ventilation — for $54,800.
The project was advertised to include a Granulated Activated Carbon filtration system, a new building to house the system and an underground concrete backwash holding tank.
If approved, the contract is scheduled to commence on Nov. 21, according to bidding documents on PennBid, the states electronic bid management system.
The filtration system will service the township's public water wells 1, 2 and 6 that were taken offline in November 2014 after they tested above a preliminary health advisory level set by the Environmental Protection Agency, which at the time was 400 parts per trillion for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and 200 parts per trillion for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).
Christian Jones, director of the township's water and sewer department, said Thursday the township would have to incur the initial construction costs and receive reimbursement from the military afterward.
In 2015, the township entered into a cooperative agreement with the Air National Guard which agreed to pay $5.9 million for the installation of the filtration units and other costs associated with the pollution remediation.
Two more wells were shut down in May after testing above a new lifetime advisory level set by the EPA of 70 ppt for both PFOS and PFOA. The township is currently renegotiating its agreement with the military to include filtration systems for the two wells contaminated this year.
The U.S. Department of Defense has claimed responsibility for PFOS and PFOA contamination linked to the former Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove and the active Horsham Air Guard station and the former Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster. As a result, 16 private wells and 150 public wells were shut down in Warrington, Warminster and Horsham.
Warrington has taken several steps to lower contamination from the unregulated chemicals — listed as some of the highest in the nation — down to nondetectable levels, but has also incurred unanticipated complications as their clean water efforts have moved forward this summer.
Warrington supervisors voted to enter into negotiations with North Wales Water Authority on Aug. 9 to purchase a total of 2.1 million gallons per day from the authority, making it the township's sole water provider. Approximately 65 percent of the township had already been receiving water from North Wales.
A changeover to North Wales began in late August for approximately 700 customers of the remaining 35 percent resulted in numerous complaints of property damage from a sudden increase in water pressure.
Numerous residents said they experienced damages from broken toilet valves to busted water heaters during a public meeting on Aug. 23.
Jones said a broken water meter pit and pressure release valve in the public system caused the pressure spike and the township has since added the estimated $490,000 costs incurred by residents to install pressure-reducing valves on their properties into the remediation costs it is requesting from the Air National Guard.
Warrington also joined other municipalities and state and federal representatives in August asking the military to pay for private well tests and blood tests.
More information on water contamination is available at the township's website at www.warringtontownship.org.
Just The Facts
Since 2014, 21 public drinking water wells and more than 150 private wells in Bucks and Montgomery counties have been shut down due to contamination by unregulated chemicals perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), affecting the drinking water of more than 100,000 people.
The bulk of the contamination is occurring near a trio of former and current military bases in Horsham, Warminster and Warrington, and is suspected to have originated in firefighting foams used on those bases as far back as the early 1970s. Contamination from unknown sources has closed wells in Doylestown, Chalfont, East Rockhill and other communities.