Hunter Water’s facts and figures on PFAS testing in the water supply from Grahamstown Dam

Grahamstown Dam and the catchment area.
Grahamstown Dam and the catchment area.


WITH concerns raised in recent weeks over the release of information that traces of PFAS chemicals have been found in Grahamstown Dam, News Of The Area sort to publish information obtained by Hunter Water for you to see.

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“PFAS chemicals being persistent in the environment is to be expected, give they have a long legacy of use in a range of products over decades, so it is expected that traces would be found within the water supply.

“Hunter Water’s independent laboratory can detect PFAS at a concentrations of 0.002ug/L.

This is the equivalent of one tenth of an eye drop in an Olympic sized swimming pool, and well below the FSANZ health guideline limit of 0.07ug/L.

“This guideline is set with the expectation of someone drinking water with 0.07ug/L everyday of their life (over a lifetime of exposure).

“The Grahamstown Dam catchment includes part of Medowie, which means runoff from an urban area enters the Dam.

Therefore, given the ubiquitous nature of PFAS chemicals in the urban environment, it’s no surprise to pick up very low concentrations in the Dam from time to time.

A Hunter Water spokesperson told News Of The Area, “It’s important to note that the hydrology of the local area means it is impossible for surface or groundwater from the RAAF Base Williamtown to enter Grahamstown Dam.”

“It would require water to literally flow uphill, even in wet conditions.”

“This fact is based on decades of modelling and backed up by regular testing,” they said.

“Advances in the technology used to test local drinking water means as of June 2016 Hunter Water can now detect PFAS at levels 35 times below the safe threshold for drinking water.

“PFAS chemicals have been used in a wide variety of products, due to their waterproofing and stain resistant properties, since the 1950s in a range of common household products and specialty applications.

“This has included food packaging, non-stick cookware, fabric, furniture and carpet stain protection applications (ie, Scotchgard).

“Hunter Water has, as part of its testing regime, detected low levels of PFAS throughout the network.

“This is consistent with research that has detected traces of PFAS in water throughout the country.

“One of the higher detects was in the Allyn River, 60 kilometres away from Williamtown RAAF.

“Note this was still less than a third of the health limit of 0.07ug/L.

“Hunter Water is the only utility in Australia that tests for PFAS throughout its network, and reports on its results online.
“Hunter Water tests for these compounds in the interests of being open with the community given concerns around Williamtown.

Further information and results can be found at:

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