Aug 24, 2020

Ann Arbor Green Lights $35,000 Contract for PFAS Testing

The Ann Arbor City Council approved a new contract to continue testing for PFAS 


lake michigan water

The Ann Arbor City Council approved a new contract to continue testing for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the water the city draws from the Huron River.

The contract, with Eurofins Eaton Analytical LLC, is expected to cost approximately $34,700 annually. The council has authorized the city administrator to renew it for up to four one-year periods, according to Booth Newspapers.

The city plans to mail about 10 to 20 water samples per month to the company for testing.

Since 2016, Ann Arbor has been regularly sending samples to contract labs once it was discovered that the PFAS pollution in the Huron River was getting into the city’s water. PFAS waste from upstream industrial and municipal sources has contaminated the Huron River, which provides more than 80% of the city’s source water.

“All of us are familiar with the rapid changes in the technology sector. It seems like the day after we purchase a new phone or a computer, they are out of date and new models are being advertised. Such advances in technology also are occurring in the water sector,” said Water Treatment Plant Manager Brian Steglitz in the city’s August water quality newsletter. 

According to Steglitz, new techniques are being developed that allow for detection of contaminants in drinking water at “unprecedented low levels.” He added that instead of waiting for others to develop this technology, that the city is partnering with several universities to explore opportunities to improve treatment processes and finished water quality. 

One project is in partnership with North Carolina State University, one of the city’s research projects, involving optimizing treatment processes to remove PFAS from source waters, according to Booth Newspapers.

Ann Arbor is interested in removing all PFAS from its source waters, not just those that are regulated or are part of the current testing protocol.

Currently, research at Ann Arbor’s water treatment plant involves evaluating different types of treatment which may be effective at removing a larger pool of PFAS chemicals, particularly those that are more difficult to remove.

“The city currently uses granular activated carbon to remove PFAS, but there are many different types of carbon, some more effective than others,” Steglitz said. “Using a pilot filter system, the city has been able to evaluate six different types of carbon for their effectiveness and is also piloting four different ion exchange resins. Data from these studies will help to inform future decisions on how best to treat the city’s water supply to achieve the best water quality possible for our customers.”

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