On May 23, 2017, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) issued updated values for the level of PFCs sometimes found in drinking water. The updated values are health recommendations to local officials operating public water supplies and to private well owners in the affected areas. Affected areas in this instance include some East Metro communities and the city of Bemidji.
MDH officials have identified 121 private wells in the East Metro area (mainly parts of Lake Elmo and Cottage Grove not served by city water) with water that exceeds the updated values. In addition, Cottage Grove, Oakdale, Woodbury, St. Paul Park and Bemidji have a number of supply wells for their public drinking water systems affected by the updated values. All affected community public drinking water systems will be able to put in place interim measures that will provide drinking water at or below the new MDH health-based guidance.
When updated values are issued, the MDH and MPCA work with local municipal drinking water system operators and private well owners to determine how best to respond. This often includes additional private well sampling, providing filters for private well owners who may not have other options, and changes to community water supplies to reduce PFC levels. Simple filters that go on the kitchen tap work well to remove the chemicals from the water and reduce exposure. In some cases, using bottled water for drinking may be recommended until other remedies are in place.
For additional details, please read the news release and other MDH resources:
- MDH issues new guidance on chemicals in some private wells, city water in East Metro, Bemidji
- MDH Response to EPA Health Advisory for PFOS and PFOA
- PFCs and health webpage
- MDH/MPCA Presentation from public meeting in Cottage Grove on June 7 — https://vimeo.com/220960394
Children, infants and pregnant women in the affected communities are most susceptible to the long-term effects of exposure to PFCs. Those using water from affected groundwater sources to prepare infant formula may consider using bottled water or filtration to reduce PFC exposure. MDH recommends that women in the affected communities who are currently breastfeeding, and pregnant women who plan to breastfeed, should continue to do so.
Affected private drinking water well owners
Private drinking water well owners whose wells have been sampled and where PFC levels exceed these updated values will receive a well advisory letter from MDH. These letters include instructions for how residents can receive bottled water from the MPCA until a whole house granular activated charcoal (GAC) filter can be installed.
These households will also receive a follow up letter from the MPCA requesting access to install a GAC, if desired. Access agreements need to be returned as soon as possible so that work can be performed.
If you have questions about bottled water or GACs from the MPCA, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional private drinking water well testing
The MDH plans to sample another 500-700 private in the coming months. Owners of wells to be sampled will receive a letter from MDH beforehand.
If you have questions about future sampling or any health effects associated with PFCs, please contact MDH by phone at 651-201-4897 or by email at email@example.com.
Those interested can also use the interactive map below to help determine if they live in an area where sampling and testing is a priority.