City council, staff, present concern to Senate committee

By: News Director Larissa Donovan

BEMIDJI– Bemidji City Council and staff presented to the Minnesota Senate Bonding Committee yesterday to discuss their proposals for state assistance to treat the water supply.

According to a presentation, the total cost for the treatment facility is around $16 million, with the city requesting $8 million in aid from the state and the rest will fall on city water customers with rate increases.

The well field at the Bemidji Regional Airport was near a former training site for the local fire department, where they used a firefighting foam that contained perflouroalkyl chemicals, commonly referred to as PFAs or PFCs.

These compounds, now retired, appeared to have sank through the soil and three of the five wells out there have been shut down, with the city pumping water out of the other two wells and blending it to stay below state guidelines of one part per trillion. 

Recent tests of the well water has been sent to the state, and staff expects the PFAs levels to exceed state guidelines.

The Minnesota Department of Health advises against excessive PFAs for nursing and pregnant women, due to the supposed long-term effects of these chemicals.

Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University. You can follow along with Larissa's live tweets of meetings and events on Twitter!

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