NGWA Past President Writes Op-Ed Encouraging Private Water Well Filtration to Combat PFAS

NGWA Past President David Henrich, CWD/PI, CVCLD, wrote an op-ed in the Star Tribune in Minnesota on January 21 calling for private well filtration systems to prevent water contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

PFAS contamination is countywide in Washington County, which led to the manufacturer responsible — 3M — agreeing to pay an $850 million settlement with the state. Washington Country is receiving a large amount of funds to deal with the issue.

While plans are underway to help supply citizens with clean drinking water from municipal systems, Henrich argues that not enough attention is being paid to private well owners.

Henrich, president of Bergerson-Caswell Inc. in Maple Plains, Minnesota, details how whole-house filtration systems can effectively eliminate or reduce PFAS in drinking water. Henrich writes, “The filter media can even be regenerated and reused, creating minimal waste. Compared with other solutions, they are very inexpensive and ready to be installed right now. As an added benefit, this process would actually help clean up the groundwater over time, because the PFAS is absorbed by the filter media and destroyed through the media regeneration process.”

Regarding costs alone, Henrich cites one of the expedited projects in Cottage Grove that was funded through the 3M settlement. The project will convert 139 homes from private water well systems to public water supply and is estimated to cost at least $9.1 million. Henrich states the whole-house water treatment systems could have been installed for less than $300,000. The systems would then need to be serviced annually at around $800 per system, or around $111,000 per year.

In looking at the future, Henrich argues that in raw dollars alone, treatment could have been provided for almost 80 years, far longer than the infrastructure itself will last. The money saved could be used for other projects such as “remediating the groundwater and restoring the natural resource instead of perpetuating the problem and potentially impacting others as the contaminant continues to migrate through the aquifer,” Henrich writes.

Henrich, who served as president of NGWA in 2018, is currently president of the Minnesota Water Well Association. He concludes that organizations such as his and the Minnesota Water Quality Association are ready to help public leaders see the value in his plan for Washington County.

Click here to read the full op-ed.

Click here to access the NGWA PFAS Resource Center.