For Immediate Release
Contact: Julie Liew, 651-259-1917
ST. PAUL—As municipal water treatment facilities continue to serve on the front lines in the fight against water pollution, two organizations that represent local governments are calling on the Minnesota Legislature to support an initiative to help cities combat contaminants known as “PFAS.”
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of bio-accumulative, pervasive and persistent chemicals that have been linked to serious public health concerns. Often referred to as “forever chemicals” due to do their inability to break down in nature, PFAS are found in numerous household and industrial products including common varieties of cookware, food packaging, carpeting, water-resistant clothing and gear, firefighting foam and cosmetics.
Municipal water facilities do not produce PFAS, nor do they use PFAS in the course of treating wastewater. However, local governments have been thrust into the conversation on how to deal with the PFAS that come through their wastewater and drinking water facilities.
The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities (CGMC) and the League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) have teamed up to support SF 3414/HF 3686, a bill that would allocate $500,000 in state funding to create the Municipal PFAS Source Reduction Initiative to equip local governments with better information and tools to begin to address PFAS.
The bill, authored by Sen. Carrie Ruud (R-Breezy Point) and Rep. Peter Fischer (DFL-Maplewood), has bipartisan support in both the Minnesota House and Senate.
“We are grateful to Sen. Ruud and Rep. Fischer for taking the lead on this important issue,” said Willmar City Councilor Audrey Nelsen, who also serves as president of the CGMC. “Cities don’t create PFAS, but we want to be part of the solution. This initiative will help give cities the resources we need to begin to explore ways to tackle this problem.”
If approved by the Legislature, the Municipal PFAS Source Reduction Initiative will take a three-pronged approach to addressing PFAS. The funding will be used to:
- Conduct research to better identify the sources of PFAS, both domestic and industrial, that are conveyed to municipal treatment plants.
- Develop source reduction strategies to prevent PFAS from entering municipal water systems.
- Create guidance documents for wastewater professionals and informational materials for the public to help local governments implement reduction measures and educate their residents and businesses.
“PFAS are a growing environmental concern that have the potential to impact all municipal water and wastewater facilities,” said Andy Bradshaw, operations manager for the Moorhead Wastewater Treatment Division. He noted that technology does not currently exist for city wastewater facilities to treat for PFAS, which makes source reduction efforts particularly important.
“There is still a lot of research that needs to be done surrounding PFAS,” Bradshaw said. “The Municipal PFAS Source Reduction Initiative will allow cities to partner with state agencies so that we can work together to assess the issue, reduce sources, and best address PFAS entering the environment.”