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Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities Announces Results of Water Testing for PFAS

News Release
Date: March 7, 2024

Contact: Chloe Morroni
Communications & Public Engagement Manager
P: 801-702-0801 / E:

Today, Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities (SLCDPU) announced test results from the latest round of a federal water quality sampling program called the Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR5). The UCMR5 requires water systems throughout the nation to test for 29 per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and for lithium. These compounds are not currently regulated under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The results from this nationwide sampling effort will help the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) make decisions about developing future regulatory requirements for PFAS and lithium for the nation’s drinking water systems.

SLCDPU began sampling for some PFAS in 2013. Until the latest UCMR5 testing, no PFAS were detected in the sources of drinking water in the SLCDPU water service area. However, sampling conducted under the UCMR5 requirements in October 2023, and further follow-up and investigative samples collected beyond the EPA’s UCMR5 requirements in November 2023, identified low concentrations of PFAS in only two (one which is active, the other is inactive) of SLCDPU’s more than 20 groundwater wells.

The two impacted groundwater wells are not currently contributing water to the SLCDPU’s drinking water system. One of the wells is a seasonal well only used during the summer peak demand period and will undergo additional testing and possible treatment. The other well has not been in use since the 1990s due to its proximity to a known groundwater contamination site that is under active investigation by the EPA.

During summer peak demand, groundwater sources supply, on average, between 10% and 15% of the annual water needs to SLCDPU’s water service area. The active well in which PFAS was detected is used only during times of high demand (typically in the summer months) and contributes less than 4% of the total supply when in use. The remainder of SLCDPU’s water supply comes from surface water that emanates primarily from the nearby Central Wasatch Mountains and Deer Creek reservoir. PFAS were not found in SLCDPU’s surface water sources, which comprise most of the drinking water to SLCDPU’s service area.

Laura Briefer, SLCDPU Director, stated, “at this time, there are no known sources of PFAS that could impact the groundwater in the two wells, but SLCDPU is investigating potential sources and will be resampling the two wells over the next several months.” Briefer added that, “given the impacts and national attention associated with exposure to these forever chemicals, we take this finding seriously. Our highest priority is our community’s trust in the reliability and quality of the drinking water supply. We will work closely with our community, the Utah Division of Drinking Water, and the EPA on our next steps.”

“We appreciate Salt Lake City being proactive and transparent by providing this information to their customers,” said Nathan Lunstad, Director of the Division of Drinking of Drinking Water. “We will continue to work closely with Salt Lake City as our partners to ensure safe and reliable drinking water is provided to the community.”

SLCDPU regularly collects samples from its drinking water supply to check for contaminants and prepares a comprehensive water quality report, called a Consumer Confidence Report, which is distributed to the public each year. SLCDPU’s water supply complies with and exceeds the regulatory requirements for the more than 90 regulated contaminants that are annually monitored under the state and federal Safe Drinking Water rules. SLCDPU invests in a significant source water protection program to mitigate risk of pollution of drinking water sources. This includes rules and regulations to reduce the risk of pollution of the City Creek, Parleys Creek, Big Cottonwood Creek, and Little Cottonwood Creek watersheds that provide most of the water to SLCDPU’s water service area. This also includes protection of groundwater sources through zoning and health ordinances.

As of February 2024, the EPA has not announced a regulatory limit for PFAS in drinking water. The latest data shows that more than 5,000 locations throughout the United States have detected PFAS, although there are many communities that have not yet completed the UCMR5 testing. The EPA is currently working to increase nationwide sampling, making significant investments in treatment technologies, enacting public health safeguards via regulations, and providing more information and resources for public education. As the oldest water retailer in the state of Utah, SLCDPU’s actions to date illustrate the City’s commitment to delivering safe, high-quality drinking water. SLCDPU is monitoring its water sources for PFAS above current EPA and state requirements and will continue to monitor the drinking water supply for PFAS and other contaminants. Information will continue to be shared as it becomes available.

About PFAS
PFAS is a family of thousands of man-made substances first created in the 1940s that have come to be known as “forever chemicals” due to their pervasive and persistent character. PFAS are a main ingredient in many modern products, such as non-stick cookware, firefighting foam, and stain repellent. The use of PFAS is widespread in modern society, and scientists have found that these substances do not break down easily in the environment. PFAS substances have been found in water in some areas of the country and have resulted in some widely publicized health impacts. Health problems such as reproductive and immune system issues and some cancers have been attributed to long-term accumulations of PFAS in some people.

SLCDPU Water Quality FAQs – Water Quality | Public Utilities (
SLCDPU Source Water Protection Information – Watershed | Public Utilities (
SLCDPU Water Quality Information and Annual Consumer Confidence Reports – Water Quality | Public Utilities (
US EPA Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule and Testing Results – Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule | US EPA
Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Drinking Water – Division of Drinking Water – Utah Department of Environmental Quality


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