State PFAS agency seeks more funding

Toxic Tap Water

WASHINGTON (WOOD) — The state agency working to find the likely carcinogen PFAS in drinking water sources and get rid of it is about to run out of money — but it’s working to appropriate more.

Late last year, the state set aside $23 million for PFAS elimination initiatives. The woman in charge of the Michigan PFAS Action Team said it will likely be gone by the end of 2018.  

“We’ve certainly used the $23 million very effectively for investigation and mitigation, earning protecting drinking water,” MPART director Carol Isaacs told Target 8 outside of a U.S. House committee hearing in Washington Thursday.

The cash went to testing about 900 public water systems and schools, with plans to finish that project by the end of the year. The state also investigated possible PFAS sites, tested 6,000 private wells and provided bottled water to communities with tainted water. So far, the state has found about 1.6 million people are drinking public water with at least a little PFAS in it.

Isaacs said MPART is working to get more money, but it needs help.

“It’s a big, complex system,” she said. “States cannot do this alone.”

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Isaacs was among seven experts who appeared before members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Thursday. The hearing focused on what some are calling the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s failure in responding to PFAS contamination.

“PFAS in Michigan is scaring people more than the Flint water did,” U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, said. “Flint was a wake-up call for the conscience of every one of us. And we’re going to fight to get this handled, addressed and make sure … every American should be drinking safe, clean water.”

The message that came out of the hearing was that the EPA must do more, including setting an enforceable PFAS limit.

“Absolutely it has to be enforceable,” U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, said. “When people turn on their water, they want it to be safe. They don’t want a fear of contamination.”

The EPA refused to make a commitment on changing its limits on PFAS in drinking water, though it did say it is considering making that limit enforceable rather than just an advisory.

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