Norwood Water Commission board meeting recap #PFAS

Lone Cone from Norwood

From The Norwood Post (Harley Workman):

Each year, the board votes on a new chairperson that is from either location; a town member is appointed to lead on odd years, and a rural member is appointed on even years. The opposite happens for the vice chairperson.

For 2020, the board voted Jim Jensen, who represents the surrounding rural area, as chair. He replaces Finn Kjome, who lives in town limits. Kjome was appointed as the new vice chair at last week’s meeting.

Other water commission board members are Mike Grafmyer, Jim Wells, Ron Gabbett and John Owens.

Tim Lippert, the town’s public works director and operator, gave the board several updates. The first item was the repair work needed on a town vehicle and the possibility of purchasing a new vehicle as a replacement. Lippert said the repairs would cost approximately $1,000.

He also presented new raw water data to the board, as they’d requested information on how the new system was impacting the town’s reserves. However, the water data is based on only the first year of operation and study for Norwood’s new system. The board agreed that additional data over several years is needed to ensure data collected on the raw water system is accurate.

Lippert informed the board of a state program, which is offering free testing of municipal water for the chemical Teflon, a substance dangerous to drinking water and frequently found in fire-fighting foam.

Lippert told the board that the testing is not mandatory, but could possibly be in the future.

Teflon testing has been occurring across the nation since 2013 and has recently started in Colorado. The test looks for Teflon in amounts as small as 70 parts per trillion.

Norwood’s board expressed willingness to do the Teflon testing if the tests are paid for by the state program. Board members said they don’t want to have to pay for the testing with the town’s money.

Currently, the state has roughly $500,000 in funding for the free testing. Lippert said on Monday the Town of Norwood did apply for funds and will know in the near future if the test will be conducted locally.

At the same time, board members also said they don’t believe that the chemical will be found in Norwood’s water, because of the lack of forest fires that have occurred on the Lone Cone. Still, they said they are open to running the test to be certain.

Albuquerque: New injection well installed for ASR

New Mexico water projects map via Reclamation

From The Albuquerque Journal (Theresa Davis):

A new injection well built by the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority will pump treated river water back into the aquifer for future use in the metro area. The $2 million well, built at the San Juan-Chama Drinking Water Treatment Plant in north Albuquerque, is key to the city’s aquifer storage and recovery plan.

Project manager Diane Agnew said the well, which is the first of its kind in the city, is a “success for Albuquerque’s water sustainability.”

“This is like a ‘water savings account’ that builds up over time,” she said. “The injection well gives us an alternate source to meet our long-term water demand. It lets us take (treated) San Juan-Chama water and store it in the aquifer, where it won’t evaporate.”

[…]

To access the stored aquifer water, the new well pumps can be “flipped” from injection to extraction.

The project expands on the city’s efforts to recharge the aquifer and address long-term water demand.

Each winter, San Juan-Chama water is released into the Bear Canyon Arroyo. That water infiltrates the ground and eventually ends up in the aquifer.

Agnew said the Bear Canyon setup takes advantage of the arroyo’s natural recharge mechanism, but the water may evaporate before it seeps into the ground, and it can take as long as six weeks to reach the aquifer.

The new injection well can send 3,000 gallons of water a minute directly into the aquifer 1,200 feet below the well site, where it can be stored without risk of evaporation. Injected well water reaches groundwater in just a few days…

As with the arroyo project, water will be injected at the well site from October to March, when water demand is lower.

The water authority has worked with the state Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources to identify other areas in the city which would be optimal for future aquifer injection wells.

Albuquerque’s shift away from pumping groundwater has spurred recovery of the aquifer underneath the city.

A report released last year by the U.S. Geological Survey showed city groundwater withdrawals had dropped by 67% from 2008 to 2016. Aquifer levels in some parts of Albuquerque rose as much as 40 feet during that time.

#Colorado Fire Departments Are Switching To A New #PFAS Firefighting Foam, But Concerns Linger — Colorado Public Radio

From Colorado Public Radio (Grace Hood):

About 60 percent of Colorado fire departments report that they have firefighting foam with synthetic chemicals known as PFAS, according to a recent survey by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment…

“We are highly cognizant of how dangerous PFAS can be in terms of the cancer-causing properties for our firefighters,” said Greg Pixley, a public information officer with Denver Fire Department “We are working every effort we can to reduce PFAS in our day-to-day operations.”

[…]

An older generation of the firefighting foam containing PFAS has been retired from use in Colorado, and across military bases. Now, a newer version with a different chemical formula is available. Originally it was believed to not accumulate in the body, but research is emerging that shows potentially toxic health effects are concerns for many of the firefighters who use this product on the front lines…

State health officials know PFAS chemicals are a problem. Conducting a survey is one part of the state’s plan to address the health risks. In addition to reporting PFAS foam supplies, health officials asked which fire departments had used PFAS firefighting foam in the past. About 19 departments reporting using the foam.

However, it’s unclear what, if any, testing will happen across those departments that reported using the foam.

The state government has made about $500,000 available with a priority for Colorado’s 890 drinking water districts for testing of PFAS chemicals. But fire departments will be at the back of the line behind drinking water districts to access to those funds, according to state health officials…

According to the state survey, the largest caches of the new PFAS foam is held by Suncor, the Denver Fire Department, South Metro Fire Rescue and the Pueblo Fire Department.

The departments that have large quantities of the new form on hand use it because they respond to fires at regional or municipal airports. The Federal Aviation Administration requires fire responders at some airports to have the PFAS foam on hand to ensure “the extinguishment of the fire for the successful evacuation of passengers and aircrew during an aircraft fire,” according to a statement from the FAA.

“It was a compromise,” said Eric Hurst, a public information officer with South Metro Fire Rescue. “We essentially worked with Centennial Airport to find the safest environmentally friendly [firefighting foam] available and used that.”

The FAA is under the gun to find a replacement by Oct. 4, 2021, at which time it can no longer require the use of PFAS foam.

The agency is currently researching and evaluating replacement firefighting foams. Some airports like London-based Heathrow have switched to a fluorine-free foam that doesn’t have PFAS chemicals linked to health issues…

“[DIA] along with other commercial airports and airport industry associations, continues to press the FAA for a firefighting alternative that would satisfy commercial travel safety responsibilities while reducing the potential for environmental impact,” said Emily Williams, a public information officer with Denver International Airport.

State law does set some limits on how the new PFAS foam can be used. Legislation in 2019 prevents fire districts from using it to conduct training exercises. It is only to be used to fight fires.

Photo via USAF Air Combat Command

Scientists Fight Back Against Toxic ‘Forever’ Chemicals — Wired #PFAS

From Wired (Michelle Cohen Merrill):

Once a symbol of American ingenuity, PFAS were originally conceived as wonder chemicals that could resist stains, repel water, extinguish horrific oil-based fires, and keep eggs from sticking to the pan. Today, we know them as a Frankenstein-like invention, zombie chemicals that will not die.

Chemists created thousands of such compounds by bonding carbon to fluorine in chemical chains, forging one of the strongest bonds ever discovered. Now they have been found across the planet—even in the blood of arctic foxes and polar bears. Public health studies found PFAS in the blood of about 95 percent of Americans. While the health impact of low levels of exposure is less clear, the chemicals are linked to liver, thyroid, and immune effects, cancer, and low birth weight. It will take billions of dollars—and yet more engineering prowess—to remove PFAS from drinking water and the environment. The task seems bleak, even as the US Department of Defense prepares to spend more than $2 billion on cleaning up PFAS on its bases. Firefighting training sites, airports, and industrial sites are also big contributors.

On Friday, the US House of Representatives passed the PFAS Action Act, which would require the EPA to set drinking water limits for two PFAS (PFOA and PFOS) and to designate PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the Superfund cleanup program. Its path forward is uncertain. Even if the Senate passes the measure, the Trump administration has called its provisions “problematic and unreasonable” and threatened a veto.

But here’s a shred of optimism: Some new technologies show promise in breaking those ultra-strong carbon-fluorine bonds, which means the compounds known as “forever” chemicals could be removed from at least some groundwater. “I have actually started to feel a little bit of hope,” says Chris Higgins, an environmental engineer at the Colorado School of Mines and a PFAS expert. “We’re getting some technologies that seem to be working.”

The most promising approach involves an electrical reaction that looks like lightning striking water. Contaminated water goes through a plasma reactor, where argon gas pushes the PFAS compounds to the surface. Electrodes above and below the surface generate plasma—a highly reactive gas made up of positive ions and free electrons—that interacts with the PFAS and breaks the carbon-fluorine bonds.

“Our goal is to completely destroy the compound and not just transfer it from one phase to another,” says Michelle Crimi, an environmental engineer at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, who works on emerging technology to remediate PFAS. The plasma reactor technique was developed by her colleagues Selma Mededovic, a chemical engineer, and Tom Holsen, an environmental engineer.

Crimi is also using ultrasound waves to create cavities—essentially holes—in the water. When they collapse, they instigate physical and chemical reactions that break apart the PFAS chains. Other researchers are working on electrochemical techniques and even soil bacteria that may metabolize PFAS.

PFAS contamination in the U.S. via ewg.org

#Colorado Has $500,000 Ready For #PFAS Water Testing. So Far, There Are Few Takers — Colorado Public Radio

The team responsible for the development of the enhanced contact electrical discharge plasma reactor, a novel method for degrading poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). Professors Selma Mededovic Thagard and Thomas Holsen with Nicholas Multari and Chase Nau-Hix (shaved head), pose in the CAMP lab, October 6, 2017.

From Colorado Public Radio (Grace Hood):

Colorado officials will continue to reach out to drinking water districts to encourage testing for synthetic chemicals known as Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances — otherwise known to the public under the PFAS acronym umbrella.

The sign-up rate, however, has been minimal.

About one week into the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s campaign, officials said about 8 percent of Colorado’s roughly 790 drinking water districts have signed up for tests…

That’s not to say that officials aren’t pleased with the sign-up rate so far. They plan to send email notifications to drinking water districts to remind them of the available funds over the coming weeks…

While the [EPA’s] current advisory limits are voluntary, they are determining whether to formally regulate two of the chemicals, PFOA and PFOS. A decision is expected later in 2020.

Central Plains Irrigation Conference February 18-19, 2020, Burlington, #Colorado, Burlington Community Center

The High Plains Aquifer provides 30 percent of the water used in the nation’s irrigated agriculture. The aquifer runs under South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.

Click here for all the inside skinny from Kansas State University.

U.S. House votes to crack down on toxic chemicals; Trump threatens veto — The #Colorado Independent #PFAS

From The Colorado Independent (Allison Stevens):

The U.S. House voted Friday to pass a comprehensive legislative package that would crack down on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a class of chemicals known as PFAS that are said to cause serious health problems.

Used in tape, nonstick pans and other everyday substances, PFAS have been linked to cancer, decreased fertility, developmental delays and other conditions and have been found in high concentrations in sources of public drinking water and other sites around the country.

The PFAS Action Act includes a series of provisions designed to mitigate their harm. It cleared the House with support from 223 Democrats and 24 Republicans. One hundred and fifty seven Republicans voted against it, as did one Democrat and Michigan independent Rep. Justin Amash. Twenty-four lawmakers did not vote.

Colorado’s delegation was split on the vote, with Democratic representatives voting for the bill and Republicans voting against it…

Friday’s vote came after supporters of the legislation suffered a stinging setback last month, when key PFAS provisions were struck from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) before it was signed into law.

Opposition to those provisions from Senate Republicans prompted House Democrats to call the PFAS bill to the floor this month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Friday.

“Last year, our members worked relentlessly to pass bold legislation to tackle the PFAS crisis,” Pelosi said on the House floor. “Unfortunately, at the end of the year, the Senate GOP refused to join the House to secure full, robust protections against PFAS chemicals and key provisions were cut from the NDAA.”

The “Senate GOP obstruction,” she said, “is why we are here today.”

The NDAA does take some steps to address PFAS. It includes provisions that require the U.S. military to transition off of PFAS-laden fire-fighting foam by 2024, ban the foam in exercises and training and test PFAS levels in military firefighters’ blood.

But supporters said the PFAS Action Act passed Friday goes much further.

It would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to list certain PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the EPA’s Superfund program, which would accelerate cleanup of contaminated sites. That would be a “significant first step while we allow the EPA to study the remaining compounds — which needs to start now,” Dingell said in a press release.

The bill would also create a national drinking standard for certain PFAS chemicals, help people understand water testing results, prevent new PFAS chemicals from being approved and more…

Colorado public health officials acknowledge federal action on creating a legally binding drinking water standard is lagging, forcing the state to address a public health crisis it’s ill-equipped to handle. The state is in the process of adopting new regulations after finding PFAS levels above the federal health advisory limit in groundwater across the Denver metro region, Colorado Springs and Boulder County. In September, lawmakers approved $500,000 so that the Colorado Department of Public Health can begin testing public drinking water supplies for the toxic chemical…

Despite its bipartisan support in the House, the bill faces an uphill battle.

First, it must pass the GOP-controlled Senate, where hundreds of House-passed bills are languishing on the desk of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told Bloomberg News that the legislation had “no prospects in the Senate.”

If it passes the Senate, then it would move to the White House, which issued a veto threat on Tuesday…

The EPA is already “taking extensive efforts” to address PFAS across the nation, it added — an assertion underscored by the EPA in a statement released on the same day as the White House veto threat.

But critics say the EPA’s “action plan” doesn’t go far enough to contain and clean up PFAS and are skeptical the agency will put public health over corporate profits.

PFAS contamination in the U.S. via ewg.org