Read the full article by Dolly Butz (Sioux City Journal)

“SIOUX CITY — Sioux City Utilities Director Brad Puetz told the City Council Monday that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are very difficult to get rid of and that experts don’t know the concentration at which these ‘forever chemicals’ are harmful to the human body. 

‘They do not decay in the environment. They basically stick around forever. There’s very few ways to actually dispose of PFAS,’ said Puetz, who emphasized that the city is committed to transparency regarding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. ‘We want the citizens to know everything that we know.’ 

Sioux City’s drinking water has exceeded health advisory levels, in recent months, for PFAS, a class of compounds composed of more than 6,000 chemicals, which have been used in products that are resistant to heat and repel oil and water. Since the levels aren’t regulatory in nature, Puetz said the city is not in violation of anything. He said residents can continue drinking the water. Roughly a dozen water utilities in Iowa, thousands around the nation and many more worldwide are dealing with PFAS in drinking water, according to Puetz. 

‘There’s PFAS in your burger wrappers. There’s PFAS in your microwave popcorn packages. There’s PFAS in your pizza boxes,’ said Puetz, who also noted that PFAS are present in Scotchgard and water-resistant clothing, such as GOR-TEX.

In December of 2021, Puetz said the 185th Air National Guard tested for PFAS on its base and, then, expanded that testing to additional well sites, including the Southbridge collector well. In January, Puetz said the city started to test for PFAS on its own. 

The source of Sioux City’s contamination is the use of firefighting foams at the base.

‘Those concentrations on the base are extremely high. What we’ve found is the (firefighting) foams have entered the groundwater and they’ve migrated off site to the Southbridge collector well,’ Puetz said. 

Although PFAS have been detected at Southbridge, Puetz said the chemicals haven’t been found in water samples collected from several wells on the riverfront. The riverfront water supply provides between 85% and 90% of the community’s water. 

‘The majority of this water is not even being used,’ Mayor Bob Scott said of the water containing PFAS. ‘That should make people feel a little bit more comfortable.’ 

In August, the city began participating in an Iowa Department of Natural Resources program to proactively determine the prevalence of PFAS in its drinking water. A water sample collected that month indicated 4.4 parts per trillion of one perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) compound. In October, sample results detected perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in a concentration of 5.4 parts per trillion and PFOS in a concentration of 4 per trillion.” …