Message from the President


You may have seen recent headlines about contaminated drinking water around the Willow Grove Naval Air Station in Horsham and the Naval Air Development Center in Warminster. It appears that at least 16 public and about 140 private wells in those nearby towns contain unsafe levels of two perflourinated compounds— perfluorooctane sulfonoate (PFOS) and perfluoroctanoic acid (PFOA).


Officials suspect the contamination resulted from military firefighting exercises using PFOA foam. The compounds PFOA and PFOS were developed in the 1950s and used for decades in products such as firefighting foam, nonstick coatings, textiles, semiconductors, and paper products. Their toxicity has only recently been recognized and both are now classified by the EPA as “emergent contaminants.”


These contaminants are extremely persistent in theenvironment and resist typical degradation processes. “Safe” levels have not been determined. Nationwide testing has found that the drinking water of 6.5 million Americans in 27 states is tainted by PFOA. And PFOA/PFOS exposure has been linked to increases in rates of cancer and reproductive and developmental problems.


The public wells in Horsham and Warminster with elevated levels of these compounds have been taken off line. Homeowners with private wells that exceed the EPA’s advisory level are being supplied with bottled water. There is currently no clear answer regarding how or when our neighbors’ water supplies will be cleaned up. As I write this, Gov. Wolf is calling on the military to pay for blood testing for 70,000 Bucks and Montgomery County residents.

This is a sad story happening very close to home, and a real-life illustration that when we put contaminants into the environment the impacts are often unknown and long-lasting. Mitigating or remediating these impacts is difficult and costly. A key focus for the Conservancy is the protection of our water resources by preserving the land around our streams and watersheds. We are blessed with high quality water resources in Tinicum and Upper Bucks. And we are doing our best to keep them pristine.


Boyce Budd


You can follow the Intelligencer's coverage of this continuing story here.


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