Read the full article by Paula Gardner

“Ann Arbor officials plan to seek $850,000 to upgrade filtration at its water treatment plant as the city works to reduce PFAS contamination in its treated drinking water.

That request – expected to reach city council in September – comes as state officials try to identify a source of the chemicals detected in the Huron River, which contributes 85 percent of the city’s drinking water.

The latest round of testing shows the combined level of PFOS and PFOA in Ann Arbor drinking water was 4 parts per trillion (ppt), down from 43-ppt in 2014. The most recent combined level for those two chemicals was 11-ppt for so-called raw water, or the untreated water drawn from the river.

City officials said they still consider the water supply safe for drinking…

Overall PFAS totals for the full list of 24 types of the compounds for which the state tests – a panel that includes PFOS and PFOA – totaled 39-ppt for drinking water and 52-ppt for raw water in the latest round of testing, which took place in July…

PFAS first was found in the city’s municipal water system in 2014 after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency required larger systems to test for six types of the per- and poly-fluorinated compounds. The chemicals – used in both consumer products and industrial functions – have links to cancer, liver damage, birth defects and autoimmune diseases.

The initial high reading of 43-ppt is below the 70-ppt lifetime health advisory issued by the EPA in 2016, but above the new recommended levels of 7-ppt for PFOS and 11-ppt for PFOA proposed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). Neither advisory is an enforceable national standard.

Ann Arbor did not conduct PFAS testing of its water supply from 2014 through early 2016, when the health advisory was issued.

‘The city decided to resume testing once it was apparent that EPA had determined that there was a health impact associated with exposure to these chemicals,’ said Steglitz….

Meanwhile, Ann Arbor experimented over the last year with new types of granular activated carbon (GAC) filters in some of its 26 filtration points,  and now its staff hopes council will fund a full replacement with the newer technology called Calgon F400. In addition to switching to that filter across the system, the filter replacement rate will be changed, Steglitz said.

The GAC systems are ‘the best available technology on the market for municipal water plant-scale treatment for PFAS removal,’ Steglitz said. Among other communities turning to GAC to filter PFAS is Plainfield Township in West Michigan.

Average PFOS and PFOA readings in Ann Arbor before new filters were installed in November 2017 were up to 15-ppt, while they ‘are typically below 5-ppt’ today, Steglitz said.

‘We anticipate that PFOS/PFOA levels in the drinking water will be reliably below 10-ppt after we implement this change,’ he added.

But, Steglitz cautioned, a remaining variable facing the city’s water system is the PFAS content in the Huron River.”