Iowa DNR finds ‘permanent chemical’ in 12 water supplies


A sampling of about 70 community water systems in Iowa found that toxic chemicals were detectable in the environment indefinitely in more than a dozen of them, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

DNR began sampling late last year and released the final results on its website this week. The test is designed to determine the prevalence of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (often called PFAS or “permanent chemicals”) in the state’s drinking water.

There are thousands of PFAS. The two most studied in this group were related to cancer and other diseases and were the focus of the sampling along with 23 other PFASs.

The water sources selected for the first round of testing are believed to be the most vulnerable to contamination, using federal and state data to track companies using or storing PFAS, areas using firefighting foam containing PFAS, and more, said Corey McCoid, DNR’s director of water supply operations.

None of the tests exceeded the non-mandatory federal guidelines for the two most prominent PFASs, although the EPA anticipates more stringent revisions to the health advice and is considering mandatory regulations.

“Overall, we’re happy that it’s not exceeding health recommendations at this time,” McCoid said, “but since the EPA is looking to change health recommendations, I suspect we’ll have some facilities that will be affected by then.”

Chief among these was the central city, where DNR found that the total concentration of PFAS affected by the advisory was 61 parts per trillion, close to the 70 parts per trillion guideline. The city has stopped using water from contaminated wells — except in cases of urgent need — and is conducting a DNR investigation to determine the source of the contamination.

Kammerer Mobile Home Park near Muscatine may also be affected. DNR found the concentration in its water to be 29 parts per trillion.

Other cities where both PFASs have been detected in finished drinking water include:

— Ames Water Treatment Plant: 9.6 parts per trillion
— Burlington Municipal Water Works: 7.2 parts per trillion
– Comanche water supply: 12 parts per trillion
— American Water, Iowa, Davenport: 6 parts per trillion
— Keokuk Municipal Waterworks: 4.3 parts per trillion
— Muscatine Power & Water: 7.6 parts per trillion
— Iwatani water supply: 2.1 parts per trillion
— Sioux City Water: 9.2 parts per trillion
— Tama water supply: 5.5 parts per trillion
— West Des Moines Water Works: 5.3 parts per trillion

Cedar Rapids and Iowa City treated no detectable amounts of water, but each city has one well. In large cities, contaminated water from wells can be diluted by uncontaminated water from other wells.

McCoid expects to test about 60 more water systems in the coming months. Some of these will be in areas near other detections. Cities detected in finished water are required to conduct quarterly water quality testing and report the results to DNR.

Water supplies with no major PFAS levels detected in treated drinking water include:

Adair County
Greenfield Municipal Utilities

Adams County
Corning Water Authority

Appanos County
Rathburn Regional Water Association

Blackhawk County
waterloo waterworks

Buena Vista County
Su Rapids Water Authority

Butler County
Green Municipal Water

Cedar County
HWH Corporation, Tipton

Clark County
Osceola Water Works

Clay County
Spencer Municipal Water Company

Decatur County
Lamoni Municipal Utilities
Leon water supply

Delaware County
Great Rivers Allied Energy, Dalesville
Manchester Water

Dickinson County
Central water system, Okoboji
Milford Municipal Utilities
Linghu Waterworks

franklin county
Hampton Municipal Water Works

Guthrie County
Panola Water Works

Hardin County
Eldora Water Supply
Iowa Falls Water Department

Harrison County
Missouri Valley Water
Date County
ida grove water company

iowa county
Amana Social Water System North

Jasper County
Colfax Water
Prairie City Waterworks

Johnson County
Iowa City Water Authority
Lake Ridge
Iowa City University Water System

Li County
Fort Madison Municipal Water Works

Lin County
Cedar Rapids Water Authority
Hiawatha Water Authority
Lisbon water supply

Louisa County
Vapero Municipal Waterworks

Madison County
Winterset Municipal Waterworks

Mahaska County
Mahaska Rural Water, New Salon

Mitchell County
St Ansgar water supply

Muscatine County
Mark Twain Meadow Homeowner

Page County
Clarinda Water Works
Shenandoah Water Authority

Palo Alto County
Grettinger Municipal Water

Polk County
Des Moines Water Works

Potawatami County
Council Bluffs Waterworks
Country Manor Mobile Home Park

Povešek County
Montezuma Municipal Water Supply

Sark County
Lake Wall Water Supply

Scott County
Peterson Estate

Shelby County
Harlan Municipal Utilities

Su County
Havarden Water
Rural Water System #1

Union County
Creston Water

Vapero County
Eddyville City Water Authority
Othamwa Waterworks

Warren County
Carlisle Water

Washington County
Carona Water Authority

Winnehick County
Freeport Waters, Decola

woodbury county
Sergeant Bluff Water Supply

Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a grant-backed network of news bureaus and a coalition of donors to 501c(3) public charities. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence. For questions, please contact editor Kathie Obradovich: [email protected] Iowa Capital Dispatch on Facebook and Twitter.

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