Read the full article by Pioneer Staff Report (The Bemidji Pioneer)

“BEMIDJI — The design and construction of Bemidji’s new water treatment plant, which was built to remove per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, from the city’s water, received the 2022 Honor Award for Engineering Excellence by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Minnesota.

PFAS first entered the city’s water through a type of foam that included the chemicals used in firefighter training at the Bemidji Regional Airport. In 2017, the Minnesota Department of Health issued a health advisory for the city’s water supply after it recorded levels higher than health regulations recommended.

The city of Bemidji then hired Barr Engineering Co. to help develop a plan to lower PFAS levels and improve water quality for the city’s residents.

‘Barr Engineering Co. was honored to assist the City of Bemidji in evaluating their PFAS issues and designing a treatment plant that provides safe drinking water for its residents,’ said Barr’s CEO Ward Swanson in a press release announcing the award.

Through testing and studies, Barr Engineering developed a plan with the city to quickly address the issue of contamination and provide a long-term solution.

This included the construction of the new water treatment plant, which has been in operation since March 2021. Phase 2 of the plant’s construction, which will increase its treatment capacity, is also in the works.

‘It’s been everything we hoped it would be,’ said City Manager Nate Matthews in the release. ‘The project finished on time; it’s in budget; it was successful. Our water tested clean.’

The city’s water sampling has shown that PFAS compounds remain below detection limits.”