Cowtown Moves To Combat ‘Forever Chemicals’

Tap water
Tap water | Image by by sonmez/Getty Images

The City of Fort Worth approved code revisions last week to limit the amount of “forever chemicals” in the city’s water supply.

Fort Worth City Council members unanimously passed revisions to the city’s water treatment code to tackle pollution in the public water systems, reported the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. It also updated its 2019 water conservation and drought contingency plans to curb water supply waste.

The Environmental Protection Agency released new rules limiting the amount of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — also called “forever chemicals” — allowable in drinking water nationwide, as covered by The Dallas Express. These substances, which are chemicals used to make fluoropolymer coatings and products from food packaging to non-stick cookware, do not break down and thus can accumulate in water, soil, and the human body.

The CDC states that the effects of exposure to low levels of PFAS are uncertain; however, animal studies suggest large quantities of PFAS may affect growth and development, as well as reproduction, thyroid function, and the immune system.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Texas has been flagged for excessive levels of forever chemicals in local water supplies. The EPA reported that 49 public water systems possess at least one of the five chemicals listed, including Fort Worth. However, experts believe that the number is much higher as not all systems have shared their data, according to KERA News.

Fort Worth began to monitor the pollutants in May 2023, when the Biden administration proposed new regulations on the forever chemicals, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Its Tarrant Regional Water District is fed by a network of lakes and reservoirs, with the city’s water department treating and transporting the raw water to 1.4 million people in dozens of localities in and around the county.

When asked how ready the city was to implement the new rule, Chris Harder, Fort Worth’s water director, told the council last week that thanks to the recently passed ordinance, his team would soon be sampling and testing industrial customers’ water to get ahead of new rules on the horizon from the EPA.

“Even though we just have drinking water rules out [from the EPA], we’ll be looking at the entire water cycle. Whether it’s wastewater, whether it’s reclaimed water, whether it’s source water, whether it’s stream water standards. So even though we have one rule out, more rules are coming,” Harder said.

Fort Worth officials also hope to educate residents about wasteful water habits to trim the city’s per capita water consumption to 150 gallons per day by 2029, reported the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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