Drinking water contamination traced to EF&R, Issaquah says

A legal battle may be brewing between Issaquah and Eastside Fire & Rescue over damages to Issaquah drinking wells from highly toxic chemicals the city’s consultants say originated with the EF&R.

Issaquah has a conflict of interest and the City of Sammamish may also if Issaquah seeks damages from EF&R.

Two wells that provide drinking water for Issaquah residents were shut down briefly this summer from contamination of PFOS and PFOA, two toxic chemicals detected in the wells. The levels of toxicity were above Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Issaquah rushed to spend at least $1m to lease a filtering system to cleanse the water. The wells have been reactivated. Additional costs for consulting services continue.

Sammamish Plateau Water detected the chemicals at levels well below the EPA standards in nearby wells after conducting its own tests and hiring a consultant to assist.

Issaquah issued a press release yesterday in which it said the city and EF&R are working together to “further investigate potential sources of these PFCs.”

The city is cash-strapped and will likely make a claim against EF&R, Sammamish Comment is told.

Two members of the Issaquah City Council are on the board of EF&R, establishing a conflict of interest if Issaquah makes a claim for damages.

Two Sammamish city council members are on the EF&R board and a third is on the EF&R finance committee. Sammamish gets its fire service from EF&R, with taxpayers paying for this service. Sammamish City Council members thus could also be put into a position of a conflict of interest.

With two members of the EF&R board in a clear conflict of interest and two more in a potential conflict, the seven member fire board could be deprived of a quorum to decide how to settle any claim.

The Issaquah Press release:

Agencies to Investigate Potential Source of PFCs

A detection of PFCs — perfluorinated chemicals found in several local wells — was recently discovered in soil samples taken at Eastside Fire & Rescue’s (EF&R) headquarters, 175 Newport Way N.W.

Based on the latest science, the Environmental Protection Agency recently released non-enforceable, non-regulatory drinking water health advisories, which provide technical information to water providers on two PFCs called PFOS and PFOA.

Drinking water provided by both Issaquah and Sammamish Plateau Water is below those most recent advisory levels.

The City of Issaquah and EF&R will continue working together to further investigate potential sources of these PFCs.

The soil samples were taken by internationally-known experts in water systems hired by the City of Issaquah to study potential sources of these PFCs.

While most of their investigation involved drilling test wells and studying the complex hydrogeology of our area, the consultant team also approached EF&R requesting to test soil at its headquarters, which is located up-gradient from the affected wells.

The consultant’s full report, which is not yet finalized, will be presented to the Issaquah City Council during its Sept. 19 meeting.

More information on how the City of Issaquah is working to maintain water quality is available online.

Other reports:

The Sammamish Review/Issaquah Press has this report.



2 thoughts on “Drinking water contamination traced to EF&R, Issaquah says

  1. Under the “Doctrine of Necessity”, if a majority of a legislative body is conflicted, all of the members can still vote. I have seen circumstances where two pro-developer Councilmembers on a five member Council had conflicts of interest, but by persuading a third member to also gin up a “conflict”, all three members were able to vote on that developer’s proposed project. Earlier this year the historic Nokomis Building in Redmond was doomed despite admitted conflicts of interest by the Mayor and several Councilmembers. Our State’s conflict of interest laws are very weak and should be strengthened. Go here to learn more about this issue: https://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/03/18/12313/conflicts-interest-run-rampant-state-legislatures

  2. The question remains unanswered! Why the strong chlorine taste in our Sammamish water supply? Any water with such a strong smell when flushing the toilet and opening any faucet is hiding problems. Something is wrong here. Even visitors from Europe pointed out the strong chlorine smell coming out of the faucet. They refused to drink it. Bottled water to the rescue.


    H.W. Maine Sammamish,WA

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