Federal officials say the drinking water in Horsham Township is safe, but with mounting concern over contaminated water and a lack of answers about long-term health effects, officials in the Montgomery County town vowed Monday night to take extra steps to make their water even safer.
"We understand that people have lost confidence in our water supply," Township Councilman Gregory Nesbitt told dozens of residents at Monday's meeting, where the council considered actions beyond federal guidelines to reduce the contamination in drinking water to an undetectable amount.
Horsham is one of three communities in Bucks and Montgomery Counties where chemicals from firefighting foams used at former naval air bases have leeched into groundwater and community water supplies.
Horsham, Warrington, and Warminster are the first communities in the country where drinking water contamination with perflourinated compounds, or PFCs, has been linked to Navy bases.
In Horsham, five public wells have been taken off-line since the contamination was found in 2014, three of them last month, when the Environmental Protection Agency released stricter standards. Nine wells that remain in use contain lower levels of PFCs, which have been linked to cancers and other health issues.
The Navy is paying for carbon filters on the five contaminated wells that are not in use.
"Anything we do that's beyond those five wells will be on us," said Tina O'Rourke, business manager of the Horsham Water and Sewer Authority.
The township will consider removing the nine remaining wells from use by the end of the year when the Navy-funded filters are in place, in addition to purchasing water from neighboring communities, at an additional cost of up to $3,300 per day.
O'Rourke said that plan, which would be temporary as officials explore long-term solutions, would bring the average PFC level in the water supply to a nearly non-detectable amount.
"I think our goal for the future is to be as low as we can go," Councilman Mark McCouch said.
Residents told council members Monday that they were frustrated by the EPA's changing standards and afraid of how much contaminated water they may have consumed for decades before wells were taken off-line.
"What we're trying to do is restore the public's trust in what we can achieve in the short term," Nesbitt said.
Horsham is organizing an Aug. 15 meeting at Hatboro-Horsham High School to learn from federal officials about the health impact of PFCs.
On Tuesday night, Weitz & Luxenberg, a law firm that has said it is investigating the water problems, will hold a meeting for residents. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Upper Moreland High School.
Lmccrystal@philly.com 610-313-8116 @LMcCrystal
Staff writer Justine McDaniel contributed to this article.