Water Management

Posted on: December 20, 2016

Consumer Alert: Third-Party Water Sample Solicitations

Third-Party Water Sample Requests Are Not Endorsed by City


The City’s Department of Water Management has learned that a private company (or companies) is soliciting tap water samples from Durham residents. Some of our customers have contacted Water Management, confused by the vague wording and “official” appearance of these mailers and door hangers. These free water test kits are NOT issued by nor affiliated with the City of Durham in any way. It is also important to share that our neighboring utilities, including the City of Raleigh, have reported receiving similar inquiries from their customers.

Water quality testing is a very precise and scientific process. Each month, our experienced chemists and analysts conduct thousands of analyses to ensure our customers are receiving safe, high quality drinking water. These tests, conducted in both the process control labs and the state-certified lab, follow rigid chain of custody requirements and quality control and assurance protocols to guarantee samples are collected, transported, received and analyzed, meeting all state and federal requirements.

The recent direct mail and door-to-door solicitations may suggest the need for an urgent response from a resident, and may use alarming terminology such as “perfluoroalkyl substances,” also known as PFAS. Recent news coverage regarding these chemicals has been misreported and somewhat sensationalized.

Here’s what consumers need to know: There were no detections of any of the six PFAS in the City’s water supply/drinking water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has written recommendations for PFASs and related chemicals. The State of North Carolina and local municipalities including Durham are aware of and responding to this information. These updates and monitoring requirements were reflected in the EPA’s UCMR 3 (Third Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule). Details can be found here: https://www.epa.gov/dwucmr/third-unregulated-contaminant-monitoring-rule. Durham Water Management conducted UCMR 3 monitoring in 2013 and the results were included in our 2013 Annual Water Quality Report.

As noted in recent articles, industrial and military sites account for many of the highest PFAS readings. The articles also showed maps of North Carolina where PFAS were detected. These sites are in the Cape Fear Basin, downstream from Durham/Durham County, and were likely due to the presence of industrial and military sites near the testing points. We’re happy to report there are no industrial or wastewater discharges into Durham’s drinking water supply (located in the Upper Neuse River Basin).

Water Management correspondence is easy to identify: we always clearly list our contact information, along with the City of Durham’s flag logo and other official details. If you ever receive a confusing or misleading piece of mail, door hanger, or other type of solicitation, or just want to confirm what you received came from Water Management, please do not hesitate to call us at 919-560-4381.

Please contact the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality at http://deq.nc.gov/ if you have more questions. EPA has posted a helpful PFAS factsheet at https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-06/documents/drinkingwaterhealthadvisories_pfoa_pfos_updated_5.31.16.pdf. Also, we encourage customers to bookmark Durham’s annual Water Quality Report page at http://durhamnc.gov/946, and to follow Water Management on Facebook and Twitter for more information about what we’re doing to ensure our residents and businesses always have access to the highest-quality water possible.

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