GeoInsight Senior Hydrologist, David Maclean Presents Updates on Emerging Contaminants to GSRWA

November 27, 2017


Emerging Contaminants:

Updates and Risk Communication Strategies

With news regarding perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) appearing almost daily and following the crisis with the Flint Michigan lead impacts, water customers are becoming increasingly concerned and educated regarding the quality of drinking water. This combination of distrust in water regulatory agencies and rise in social media sharing is putting water superintendents in the spotlight by the press. At the 2017 Operator’s Field Day and Exhibit Show, hosted by Granite State Rural Water Association (GSRWA), GeoInsight’s Senior Hydrologist and Director of Water Supply, David Maclean, presented on the rapidly evolving topic of emerging contaminants like PFCs and reviewed risk communication strategies that water suppliers can use when responding to water quality issues. The GSRWA is a service-oriented, educationally based non-profit corporation whose mission is to provide its members with professional technical assistance, training, and legislative representation. GSRW is a state affiliate of National Rural Water Association, the largest water utility membership group in the nation. Operator’s Field Day is their annual event, held at the Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury, New Hampshire and attracts over 250 participants.

What are Emerging Contaminants?

Emerging contaminants are chemicals identified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) that pose a serious threat to human health that has not yet been fully studied and understood. They can include pharmaceuticals, personal care products, pesticides, herbicides and endocrine disrupting compounds. Until enough testing has been done to understand how these chemicals work in the environment (i.e. impact human health, transpire in the environment, remediation efforts, etc.), the USEPA can’t fully regulate them and set detection limits. In May of 2016, the USEPA released a health advisory, adding PFCs (specifically Perfluorooctanoic Acid [PFOA] and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate [PFOS]) to the list. PFCs are used in a wide variety of industries and commercial products for their valuable properties, including fire resistance, dust suppression, and oil, stain, grease, and water repellence. Maclean’s presentation, “Emerging Contaminants, Updates and Risk Communications Strategies,” aimed to update GSRWA members on the current status of regulations surrounding PFCs and provide attendees with risk communication tactics to support their work. The following are major topics discussed:

  • An introduction to Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR), how the rule is applied in the U.S. and in New Hampshire;

  • A review of emerging contaminants that are in the news, highlighting PFCs and 1,4-dioxane, how these contaminants are introduced into the environment, and how they are being regulated;

  • A review of how methyl tert-butyl ether (MtBE) impacts are managed in New Hampshire (an “old” emerging contaminant); and

  • A review of risk communication concepts, and suggestions.

Maclean is a Senior Associate at GeoInsight, where he oversees water resource assessment and development activities. Maclean has over 30 years of experience working with businesses, industries, municipalities, and other water resource interests to develop and manage ground water supplies. Maclean is an active member of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire (BIA), and the New Hampshire Water Works Association (NHWWA) during the development of Large Ground Water Withdrawal Rules and has represented the BIA on New Hampshire Legislature’s Groundwater Commission. Additionally, he is an active member of the New England Water Works Association (NEWWA)
 , helping develop the agenda for the 2017 Water Symposium.  Mr. Maclean also serves as a consultant New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES).


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Emerging Contaminants in Water Supply Updates -PFAS from GeoInsight, Inc.


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