VICENZA, Italy - Living overseas for the first time brings many concerns about new surroundings. The biggest concern is whether or not the water from household faucets is safe to drink.

According to U.S. Army Garrison Italy's Directorate of Public Works, water flowing from taps in the Vicenza area and surrounding communities come from a water source that is safe and routinely monitored for contamination. While some may prefer bottled or fluoridated water, those who choose tap water can be rest assured knowing that water here is sourced from a dense river network that includes some of the largest rivers in Italy and deep confined aquifers.

The Sette Comuni Plateau is the primary water source for aquifers and tap water in and around Vicenza. This aquifer is deeper than 100 meters (330 ft.) and considered confined because it is protected by impermeable layers of soil that do not allow superficial water above to move through it. Those impermeable layers of soil prevent contaminants from "spoiling" the water source. These confined aquifers have specific areas where they are "recharged" and fresh clean water from rainfall or snow can enter and refill them regularly. These recharge areas are protected areas. Thirty-one communities, including Vicenza and surrounding municipalities, get their water primarily from this deep, protected aquifer.

In recent weeks, the Giornale di Vicenza newspaper reported about water testing in the Veneto Region for chemicals called Perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are industrial chemicals widely used as waterproofing agents for fabrics and pots, as well as to make fabrics and paper, linings for food containers, production of photographic films, fire-resistant foams, and household cleaners. Early medical research indicate PFAS maybe carcinogenic. Accordingly, it's a potential contaminant that should be monitored.

As reported in local media, PFAS was detected in groundwater and drinking water In certain areas of the Veneto region in 2013. But unlike water from the deep aquifers, this drinking water came from shallow ground waters from unconfined, unprotected aquifers. After the discovery, local officials developed a plan that required utilities in the affected or potentially affected areas to install activated carbon filters and to test their drinking water regularly for PFAS. Since the installation of these filters, drinking water in those areas is routinely found free of PFAS.

Acque Vicentine manages the drinking water system for the 31 municipalities involved, and tests the water quality regularly just as it is done in the United States. The quality of drinking water in military housing is also monitored and tested regularly by the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division. If you live in town in one of Vicenza's 31 municipalities - or in government housing on Caserma Del Din or Villaggio - your water is tested regularly. Further testing for PFAS in late 2015 and 2017 found water free of PFAS and other contaminants.

If you are an off-base resident who found a rental home through the DPW Housing office and that house gets its water from a private well, the landlord is required to perform a water test within six months before making the unit available to rent.

The Housing office will not approve of any home on a private well, unless it is outside the area served by Acque Vicentine or similar municipal system, and demonstrates water from the well meets stringent quality standards.

Government-leased quarters off base are contracted and built with the requirement that water service is provided by Acque Vicentine and not wells.

Families here who prefer bottled water will find it inexpensive and readily available. Many military families may not be aware of it, but the cost to purchase bottled water is included in the calculations made by the Defense Travel Office when they establish rates for the military Overseas Housing Allowances Utility and recurring expenses.

Rates are established based on the responses to the annual Overseas Housing Allowances Survey where service members list utilities to include bottles water, maintenance and recurring costs.