HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Henrico County Department of Public Utilities will offer free well testing in the White Oak Area, to ensure the county’s water is safe. Testing starts on Friday and continues through next week.
The county is working with the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, Virginia Department of Health and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to do the testing.
This announcement comes after Henrico County was notified that surface water in the Chickahominy Watershed in Eastern Henrico contained elevated levels of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoalkyl substances, or PFAS.
PFAS are the byproduct of certain consumer goods that take a long time to break down, and may build up in humans and the environment over time. PFAS can be found in water, in soil or in the air, and can affect reproduction, development and can increase the risk of some forms of cancer.
The Henrico County Department of Public Utilities was made aware of the elevated levels of PFAS when Newport News Waterworks made the results of an ongoing study public. The study showed elevated levels of PFAS in surface water throughout the Chickahominy Watershed area, which stretches from Henrico to James City County.
In November, the Henrico County Department of Public Utilities conducted their own tests on the region’s surface water and found the same results. Now they’re offering to test the drinking water of 120 properties in the effected area.
“At this time, all of the elevated levels of PFAS have come from surface water, not groundwater,” DPU Director Bentley P. Chan said. “We want to be certain that there are no groundwater impacts. That’s why we are being proactive and taking the necessary steps to test individual wells.”
Chan said Henrico has short and long-term plans in place should the area’s drinking water be found unsafe. Providing bottled water and filling stations for residents would be the first step, followed by extending county drinking water to the area and setting up filtration systems to get well water to acceptable levels.
The VDH and VDEQ will be monitoring the groundwater in the affected area and the tests done by Henrico DPU will support their studies.
Residents of Eastern Henrico are urged to contact Henrico DPU at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Chan invites anyone with concerns about the quality of their drinking water to reach out. Henrico has also created a webpage further detailing how they will proceed.