HRWC shares critical information about PFAS by coordinating stakeholder communications and conducting public outreach.
A special excerpt on HRWC’s PFAS work from our Report to the Community 2018-2019, Working with Impact. New developments are included at the end of the post.
PFAS are harmful, synthetic chemicals found in a wide range of consumer products. In the summer of 2018, PFAS contamination was discovered in the Huron River and in Ann Arbor’s treated drinking water.
In response, HRWC has been coordinating communication efforts among federal and state officials, county health departments, municipal leaders, and other organizations in the watershed. We convened two large informational meetings in Milford and at Washtenaw Community College, launched a webpage to answer commonly asked questions about PFAS, and participated in numerous public forums throughout the year.
Since the detection of PFAS in the Huron, the issue—both in our watershed and throughout the state—has evolved rapidly. The levels of some PFAS chemicals in the river have declined significantly. Even so, the “Do Not Eat Fish” advisory for the Huron River is likely to remain in place for several years.
Michigan currently has no drinking water standards, and the federal government does not regulate PFAS. To help fill this regulatory gap, HRWC has joined forces with other environmental groups in advocating for better protections from PFAS and stricter laws that hold polluters accountable. Following a growing call from the public and organizations statewide, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an order directing state agencies to establish drinking water standards for seven PFAS chemicals. The process is proceeding quickly, and drinking water standards—known as Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs)— are expected to go into effect sometime in 2020.
There are three public hearings being held in January 2020. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) will holding hearings on plans to regulate several types of PFAS, in public drinking water through the use of MCLs. The hearings take place on Wednesday, Jan 8 in Grand Rapids; Tuesday, Jan 14 in Ann Arbor; and Thursday, Jan 16 in Roscommon.
HRWC is actively engaged in EGLE’s process for developing the MCLs intended to protect drinking water and safeguard public health and will submit comments as part of the rule-making. EGLE is taking public comment on draft rules until Friday, Jan 31, 2020. Contact: Dan Brown, (734) 769-5123 x 608.
Tuesday, Feb 5, learn how state and federal officials can and should confront the PFAS crisis. Join HRWC for a science and policy update from the National Wildlife Federation. Staff attorney Oday Salim will share findings from a recent study. Contact: Pam Labadie, (734) 769-5123 x 602.