Water and Sewer Utilities
Public access to the Division of Water and Sewer Utilities main office at 4520 Metropolitan Court is available to walk-in traffic for bill payment and meetings during normal business hours. Appointments for meetings are encouraged.
FACTS About PFAS
Frederick County is dedicated to protecting public health and safety by supplying safe, clean and reliable water to our customers and we support the EPA’s efforts to safeguard public drinking water supplies by addressing emerging contaminants like PFAS compounds.
PFAS are a group of over 6,000 man-made chemicals that have been manufactured and used in home consumer products such as carpets, clothing, food packaging, and cookware since the 1940s. Two of these compounds—Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS)—have been the most extensively produced and studied, and there is evidence that exposure to elevated levels of PFAS can lead to adverse health outcomes in humans.
Water utilities are “passive receivers” of PFAS. They do not produce or manufacture PFAS. Instead, these chemicals are present in source waters that are treated to produce drinking water.
Currently, there are no established federal water quality regulations for any PFAS compounds.
In 2016, the EPA established a Health Advisory (HA) of 70 parts per trillion (ppt) for PFOA and PFOS combined. Unlike EPA regulations, EPA Health Advisories are non-enforceable and non-regulatory.
In June 2022, EPA issued final HAs for perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS) and hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HPFO-DA or GenX) and interim HAs for PFOS and PFOA.
The EPA states that these interim health advisories will remain in place until EPA establishes a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation. The new HAs are listed in the table below.
2022 HA Level
Type of HA
* At this time, the minimum reporting level (the lowest level that instruments can detect) is 4 ppt (according to EPA), therefore results cannot be quantified down to the EPA’s Interim HA for PFOS and PFOA.
In March 2023, EPA announced the proposed Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for PFOS and PFOA along with a Hazard Index for the combination of four other PFAS compounds. EPA will now take the next steps in the regulatory development process before the proposed standards are finalized. It is important to note that the proposed PFAS MCLs are not enforceable drinking water standards at this time. The levels of the proposed standards are listed in the table below.
HFPO-DA (Gen X)
Frederick County has been working with MDE as part of a state-wide effort to have all source water and treated water tested for PFAS since 2021.
If results are above the 2022 HA level or proposed MCLs, what does that mean for customers?
• This is not an emergency or a regulatory violation. If it had been, customers would have been notified within 24 hours.
• If customers are concerned about potential health effects from exposure to these PFAS compounds, EPA encourages you to contact your doctor or health care professional.
• At this time, EPA is not recommending bottled water for communities based solely on concentrations of these chemicals in drinking water that exceed the health advisory levels.
Frederick County’s Next Steps
• We are following the guidance of EPA and MDE.
• If treatment process changes are necessary, we will make them.
• Our next round of voluntary quarterly testing of finished water at every county owned Water Treatment facility will take place in April 2023.
• Certain systems (New Design included) will be collecting PFAS samples in 2025 for the EPA’s Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR5).
Advice for Customers to Reduce Exposure to PFAS - Drinking Water is just one pathway for exposure.
• Support efforts to protect drinking water sources and keep PFAS out of water supplies.
• Install a treatment process where the water enters the home. EPA recommends Activated Carbon, Ion Exchange, or High-pressure Membrane treatment.
• Cook with stainless steel, cast-iron, glass, or ceramics. Don’t use nonstick cookware.
• Read ingredient lists and choose products without PTFE or perfluoro- or polyfluor-.
• Look for coats, hats, and boots labeled water-resistant. They’re less likely to have PFAS than waterproof products.
• Make popcorn on the stove or in an air popper instead of microwave bags
• Avoid ordering food in grease-resistant wrappers or containers.
- EPA’s PFAS Information: https://www.epa.gov/pfas
- EPA’s Questions and Answers: Drinking Water Health Advisories for PFOA, PFOS, GenX Chemicals and PFBS: https://www.epa.gov/sdwa/questions-and-answers-drinking-water-health-advisories-pfoa-pfos-genx-chemicals-and-pfbs#q9
- Maryland Department of Environment PFAS—Information on the Maryland Department of the Environment’s efforts to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Maryland’s Drinking Water Sources
- Center for Disease Control (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/biomonitoring/PFAS_FactSheet.html
- American Water Works Association (AWWA): https://drinktap.org/Water-Info/Whats-in-My-Water/Per-and-Polyfluoroalkyl-Substances
- Environment Protection Agency: www.epa.gov/sciencematters/reducing-pfas-drinking-water-treatment-technologies
- EPA’s Proposed Standards: https://www.epa.gov/sdwa/and-polyfluoroalkyl-substances-pfas.
June 15, 2023 at 9:00 a.m. - Public Informational Meeting for Proposed Changes to the Design Manual for Water and Sewer Facilities.
See the June 1, 2023 News Release for additional information including how to register for the meeting and subscribe to Design Manual updates.
To see the proposed changes to the Design Manual and to comment on this document, please visit DESIGN MANUAL FOR WATER AND SEWER UTILITIES UPDATES - PublicInput.
- The Division of Water and Sewer Utilities (DWSU), through responsible management of the County’s water and wastewater infrastructure, strives to provide the community with a safe and dependable water supply and reliable waste disposal services that do not harm the environment or natural resources of Frederick County.
- The Division provides for the planning, engineering, construction, maintenance, regulatory monitoring and operations of the County’s water supply, wastewater disposal and solid waste pollution control infrastructure.
- Responsibilities and activities are distributed among five (5) departments and one (1) support office within the Division.