One of the most difficult questions readers continually ask is whether their water is safe. Between scattered independent testing and ongoing sampling, it’s impossible to get a full scope of the potential damage at this early stage. A recent article suggests this question may be even more complicated, as MLive is reporting that the water previously sourced by Rockford may have been contaminated by PFAS.
Rockford currently sources its municipal water from a groundwater well system below Tiamo Lane NE. Back in October, testing found no detectable levels of PFAS chemicals in the Rockford municipal water supply. Prior to 2000, however, Rockford sourced water from an area of the Rogue River roughly 300 yards downstream of Wolverine Worldwide’s tannery. Both the tannery and the water downstream tested positive for PFAS.
This raises new concerns regarding the safety of the water consumed by Rockford residents before 2000. We know that Wolverine’s dumping of PFAS chemicals started as early as the 1960s, and the federal government only began requiring utility providers to test for PFAS in 2013. Rockford residents may have been drinking contaminated water for decades before the city switched to the current source.
The MLive article goes on to mention an anonymous complaint about the river from 1996. In the complaint, the author mentioned witnessing a “surfactant” run-off that was causing periodic foaming on the water. “Surfactant” is a technical term for a compound that reduces surface tension when added to a liquid. PFAS, once used as the main ingredient in the waterproofing agent Scotchgard, is a surfactant.
Without a time machine, it’s impossible to know if the pre-2000 Rockford drinking water supply was tainted by PFAS. All we have to go on is logic and the facts, neither of which paint a reassuring picture.
Photo Credit: Steven Depolo