PFAS

PFAS are a class of manufactured chemicals that have been used since the 1950s to make products that resist heat, stains, grease and water. PFAS has been identified as an emerging contaminant and investigations are underway in all Australian jurisdictions.

PFAS in Katherine

Compulsory water conservation measures 
Compulsory water
conservation measures
 
Living Water Smart Katherine 
Living Water Smart
Katherine
 

Power and Water carries out an extensive sampling program throughout the year on its drinking water sources, in accordance with Department of Health approvals and the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG).

Water sample testing in Katherine was increased in April 2017. These results represent the average results from 290 tap water samples, 110 bore water and 68 river water samples to 29 September 2017.

Power and Water is undertaking regular sampling of drinking water in Katherine. Testing for PFAS is conducted by laboratories interstate. Results of tests are provided to the Department of Health. The test results of samples provided are within the Australian guidance values released 3 April 2017.

Based on results that have been submitted to Department of Health, Dr Hugh Heggie Chief Health Officer has advised that public drinking water in Katherine is safe for consumption.

  Average PFAS1 Levels µg/L
(ie micrograms per litre)
Location Description ΣPFHxS and PFOS PFOA
Reference valueNew FSANZ Health Based Guidance Values for drinking water quality20.07 µg/L0.56 µg/L
Katherine Reticulation Reticulation (tap) water   0.01 <0.01
Katherine Raw bore water   0.2  0.01
Katherine Raw surface water <0.01 <0.01

PFAS in the Northern Territory

Power and Water carries out an extensive sampling program throughout the year on its drinking water sources, in accordance with Department of Health approvals and the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG).

In response to a request from Department of Health, PFAS is included in the 2016-17 water quality testing program.

Power and Water is undertaking regular sampling of drinking water. Testing for PFAS is conducted by laboratories interstate. Results of tests are provided to the Department of Health. The test results of samples provided are within the Australian guidance values released 3 April 2017.

Based on results that have been submitted to Department of Health, Dr Hugh Heggie Chief Health Officer has advised that public drinking water is safe for consumption.

Current average results of PFAS testing of drinking water to 30 September 2017:

  Average PFAS1 Levels µg/L
(ie micrograms per litre)
Location Description ΣPFHxS and PFOS PFOA
Reference valueNew FSANZ Health Based Guidance Values for drinking water quality20.07 µg/L0.56 µg/L
Alice Springs Reticulation (tap) water <0.005 <0.002
Darwin Reticulation (tap) water <0.005 <0.002
Tennant Creek Reticulation (tap) water <0.005 <0.002
Yulara Reticulation (tap) water <0.005 <0.002
Adelaide River Reticulation (tap) water   0.03<0.01
Batchelor Reticulation (tap) water   0.02 <0.01
Cox Peninsula Reticulation (tap) water <0.005 <0.002
Borroloola Reticulation (tap) water <0.005 <0.002
Garawa Reticulation (tap) water <0.005 <0.002
Daly Waters Reticulation (tap) water <0.005 <0.002
Elliot Reticulation (tap) water <0.005 <0.002
Gunn Point Reticulation (tap) water <0.005 <0.002
Kings Canyon Reticulation (tap) water <0.005 <0.002
Larrimah Reticulation (tap) water <0.005 <0.002
Mataranka Reticulation (tap) water <0.005 <0.002
Newscastle Waters Reticulation (tap) water <0.005 <0.002
Pine Creek Reticulation (tap) water   0.01 <0.01
Ti Tree Reticulation (tap) water <0.005 <0.002
Timber Creek Reticulation (tap) water <0.05 <0.01

1 ΣPFHxS and PFOS = sum of PFHxS and PFOS

2 Whole of life exposure health based guidance values for use in site investigations in Australia

PFAS in remote communities

Preliminary investigations have been conducted at five communities in close proximity to Katherine. Results indicate that all samples of the drinking water are well below the Australian guidance values released on 3 April 2017. Additional monitoring will be undertaken in liaison with Department of Health.

New FSANZ Health Based Guidance Values for drinking water quality2

  Maximum PFAS1 Levels µg/L
(ie micrograms per litre)
Location  ΣPFHxS and PFOS PFOA
Reference value0.07 µg/L0.56 µg/L
Barunga Raw surface water <0.02 <0.01
Binjari Raw bore water <0.02 <0.01
Jilkminggan Reticulation (tap) water <0.02 <0.01
Eva Valley Reticulation (tap) water <0.02 <0.01
Kybrook Farm Raw bore water <0.02 <0.01

1 ΣPFHxS and PFOS = sum of PFHxS and PFOS

2 Whole of life exposure health based guidance values for use in site investigations in Australia

PFAS testing at wastewater facilities

Power and Water has undertaken testing for PFAS at seven wastewater treatment facilities. This is part of a coordinated program to gauge PFAS contamination in the Northern Territory.

Results to date indicate that none of the facilities have contaminated surface waters and are not a source of contaminated surface water to the environment.

Table 1: The contamination thresholds for individual PFAS in surface waters PFOS or PFOA concentrations (NSW EPA 2016)

Trigger Point 1

Elevated contamination

10 μg/L

Trigger Point 2

Current screening guideline

0.1 μg/L

Trigger Point 3

Low level of contamination

0.05 μg/L

Trigger Point 4

Limits to analytical methodologies

*0.01 μg/L

*The laboratory used by Power and Water had Limits of Reporting PFOS=0.00042, PFHxS=0.00022, PFOA=0.00018

Table 2: Screening level results Power and Water wastewater facilities - January 2017

Location Average concentration (µg/L)

PFOSPFHxSPFOA

Alice Springs

   

Influent onsite

0.0011

<0.00022

0.0014

Effluent onsite (no discharge)

0.017

0.0049

0.016

Recycled water

0.00083

0.0023

0.011

Katherine

   

Influent on site

0.014

0.018

0.0023

Effluent on site (no discharge)

0.016

0.015

0.0047

Tennant Creek

   

Influent onsite

0.0061

0.0047

0.0036

Effluent onsite (no discharge)

0.0036

0.0011

0.0069

Darwin

   

Ludmilla

   

Influent onsite

0.010

0.005

0.016

Effluent offsite

0.0044

0.0016

0.0012

Leanyer Sanderson

   

Influent onsite

0.013

0.0060

0.0019

Effluent offsite

0.013

0.0051

0.023

Palmerston

   

Domestic Influent onsite

0.00063

<0.00022

0.0011

Trade Waste Influent onsite*

<0.0003

<0.0003

<0.0003

Effluent offsite

0.0034

0.0005

0.00061

Berrimah

   

Influent onsite

0.0080

0.0056

0.002

Effluent offsite

0.013

0.010

0.012

*The trade waste stream was sampled in December 2016 and sent to a different laboratory with Limits of Reporting PFOS=0.0003, PFHxS=0.0003, PFOA=0.0003

REFERENCES

NSW EPA Environmental Risk Sciences Pty Ltd (enRiskS) (2016)

Proposed Decision Tree for Prioritising Sites Potentially Contaminated with PFASs

Helpful information