PFAS Information

The Colchester Water Department is aware of the growing interest in and concerns regarding Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). PFAS are a group of manufactured chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s because of their useful properties. There are thousands of different types of PFAS. They can be found in to-go containers, microwave popcorn bags, fast food wrappers, non-stick cookware, stain resistant carpeting, waterproof clothing, fire suppressors, and many other household items. One common characteristic of concern of PFAS is that many break down very slowly and can build up in people, animals, and the environment over time. Studies generally support a connection between PFAS and negative effects on the liver, immune system, growth, reproduction, and fetal development.  

Colchester is a small water utility and was not required to test for PFAS prior to the UCMR 5 test this Spring. The test showed a presence of PFOS and PFOA in our water that is below the Action Levels specified by the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health. The water in Colchester is not unsafe to drink; it meets the standards set forth by the DPH.  

In March 2023, the EPA proposed a bill reducing the federal Action Level for PFAS below Colchester’s current detected concentration. The EPA draft MCL’s have no immediate impact on public water systems in Connecticut, and no immediate action is required from our municipality. Until final MCLs for PFAS are released, the Department of Public Health will continue to provide guidance to public water systems with PFAS detections based on its current health-based Action Levels.  

The Colchester Water Department is actively planning to address the PFAS in our water should they be found to be harmful by the EPA or Department of Public Health. The immediate course of action would be to solicit the design and construction of an activated carbon filter at our water treatment facility. We will participate with other towns across the nation in the $1 Billion of federal grant funding set aside in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. We will also set aside capital for this project. We will continue to monitor the levels of PFAS in our water and stay up to date on this new legislation.  

For further information on the changes in legislation and about how to reduce your risk of exposure to PFAS please visit:  

Frequently Asked Questions


  • What sections of Colchester are affected by the presence of PFAS chemicals in the water?  Colchester Sewer and Water Commission serves the very center (borough) of Colchester. 


  • Are there any “safe” levels of contamination, or is the mere presence of PFAS chemicals at any level sufficient to have you recommend against drinking the water?  The Commission can only refer you to CT DPH or EPA


  • How did the Town of Colchester test the water to determine the presence of PFAS?  State DPH and EPA requested a sample of our sources.  One completed by our Laboratory vendor, one completed by EPA.


  • How many water sources (reservoirs or whatever) are used in Colchester? That is, does the entire town get its drinking water from one source or are there multiple sources used in different sections of the town?  The Commission currently uses two well fields that are both fed to the water system.


  • Presuming there are multiple sources, were all of them tested for PFAS? If so, were all found contaminated, or just some? If some, which sections’ water was found safe and which were found contaminated?  Both well fields were included in testing.


  • How can I as a homeowner determine if my tap water is contaminated? For example, are there test kits (akin to Covid-19 test kits) which, when tap water is added to them they turn red or cloudy or rotten-egg-smelly or something equally obvious?  Only certified laboratories can perform this testing, for more information please contact EPA


  • Is a ban on the use of PFAS-contaminated tap water being contemplated? Colchester Sewer and Water Commission water currently meets all State and Federal requirements for PFAS chemicals.  Contact EPA for more information


  • If so, will such a ban extend throughout all of Colchester or just in those sections where contamination has been found?  Colchester Sewer and Water Commission water currently meets all State and Federal requirements for PFAS chemicals.   Contact EPA for more information


  • What are the ill effects of consuming tap water with PFAS contamination? How long would it take for such ill effects to show up what measures can we take to mitigate the effects? Never drink it? Only drink one 8 oz. glass a day? Only drink one gallon per week? Contact EPA for more information 


  • Is boiling water is insufficient to remove or mitigate the ill effects of PFAS contamination. True?  Correct. Contact EPA for more information 


  •  If my water is found contaminated, how will I know when the contamination has ended? Mass mailing? Announcements in local newspapers? Announcement on television / radio? All of the above?  IF Colchester Sewer and Water Commission had an exceedance of an MCL (Maximum Contaminant Level) for any regulated chemical, customers would be notified at its discovery and when it was no longer found in sampling


  • At that point, how long should I, say, open my faucets for in order to flush any remaining contamination out of the water pipes leading into and within my house?  Futher guidance would be distributed at that time. 

Federal Government Resources