Pease Drinking Water Treatment Facility

In 2014, perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) was discovered in the Haven Well, one of three drinking water wells at the former Pease Air Force Base that serve the Pease International Tradeport in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. PFOS is one of the compounds under the larger umbrella of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of thousands of man-made compounds that have been manufactured and used around the globe since the 1940s. PFAS are persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t readily break down and can accumulate over time. As part of an emergency response with the Tradeport’s water supply at stake, Weston & Sampson was retained to determine the best path forward and implement the most effective, available long-term treatment technology.

Faced with PFAS levels about 35 times higher than the US EPA’s health advisory, Weston & Sampson fast-tracked the pilot testing and installation of a temporary granular activated carbon (GAC) system to keep treated water flowing from the two of the three wells serving the Pease Tradeport. However, because of the high PFAS concentrations in the Haven Well, it was determined that additional testing would be required to verify filter performance. In parallel with the installation and operation of the temporary GAC system, we worked with a filter media provider to pilot-test a unique ion exchange resin media that could handle the high concentrations of PFAS seen in the water from the Haven Well. Following the successful pilot testing, an innovative design was selected utilizing ion exchange resin for PFAS treatment, followed by GAC filtration to polish the water and treat for any legacy VOC compounds that may remain following the Superfund cleanup activities of the 1980s. The combination of resin and GAC provides a reliable flow of drinking water to the community and ensures a continuous supply of water to several industrial operations at the Tradeport, including a medical device manufacturer that requires consistent water quality in their processes. The result is a flexible system that can function as intended in a wide range of operating conditions. In early August of 2021, after the permanent Pease Water Treatment Facility became fully operational, the City of Portsmouth announced approval from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to bring the Haven Well back online, seven years after it was shut down.