South Fork Roanoke River contaminated with ‘PFAS,’ VDH says water still safe to consume

‘PFAS’ are widely used, long-lasting chemicals with components that don’t break down naturally, officials say

SHAWSVILLE, Va. – The South Fork Roanoke River watershed is contaminated with PFAS, according to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. However, according to VDH, the water is still safe to drink.

The DEQ said they received information from the Western Virginia Water Authority that results of the water found GenX, a type of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substance, also known as PFAS, in source water and drinking water from the South Fork Roanoke River watershed.

PFAS are chemicals that are widely used, according to DEQ. They are long-lasting chemicals with components that don’t break down naturally over time.

The DEQ, WVWA, and the Virginia Department of Health are teaming up to find the source of the contamination.

For now, VDH said the PFAS levels in the drinking water are still okay for people to consume, and those levels will be monitored.

They originally noticed the contamination back in August when PFAS levels were found in a drinking water reservoir along the Roanoke River, as well as treated water, DEQ said.

Since then, they said they’ve been working to find the sources. More samples collected in Oct. point to a possible source: an industrial facility that discharges into the Elliston Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is operated by the Montgomery County Service Authority.

We’re told the plant discharges water about five miles upstream from the WVWA water intake and test results show higher levels of the chemicals in water discharged from the plant to the Roanoke River.

From that point on, WVWA has not pumped water from the river into the reservoir, DEQ said.

Officials said VDH is working to coordinate more funding and testing in the watershed to ensure the continued safety of drinking water.

DEQ said they will be working with WVWA to continue taking samples of the river to monitor the PFAS levels and to determine what to do next.

For more information about PFAS in drinking water, visit the VDH website here.

You can see 10 News’ latest coverage on this story here.

About the Author:

Alli Graham came aboard the digital team as an evening digital content producer in June 2022.