The City of Apple Valley's drinking water has always met all safety guidelines. To ensure continued compliance, the City conducts proactive, voluntary testing of all municipal drinking water for the presence of PFAS (per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances). PFAS is an emerging contaminant that has been detected in groundwater in multiple cities throughout Minnesota and the nation.
In Apple Valley, water from wells across the City is pumped to a central Water Treatment Plant, where it is mixed together and treated before being pumped into the public water system. Tests in 2021 showed two of the City's wells were over the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) limits for PFAS. Even though the water leaving the treatment plant met all current and proposed limits for PFAS, these wells were immediately removed from service out of an abundance of caution.
While there is no cause for concern, the City wishes to keep residents informed about the our actions regarding PFAS and share informational resources from trusted state and federal agencies.
Click the arrows below to learn more about each topic.
What is PFAS?PFAS (per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) are a group of manufactured chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s because of their useful properties. There are thousands of different PFAS, some of which have been more widely used and studied than others. Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS), for example, are two of the most widely used and studied chemicals in the PFAS group. PFOA and PFOS have been replaced in the United States with other PFAS in recent years. One common characteristic of concern of PFAS is that they break down very slowly and can build up in people, animals, and the environment over time.
Where is PFAS found?PFAS can be present in our water, soil, air, and food as well as in materials found in our homes or workplaces, including:
- Drinking water – in public drinking water systems and private drinking water wells.
- Soil and water at or near waste sites – at landfills, disposal sites, and hazardous waste sites such as those that fall under the federal Superfund and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act programs.
- Fire extinguishing foam – in aqueous film-forming foams (or AFFFs) used to extinguish flammable liquid-based fires. Such foams are used in training and emergency response events at airports, shipyards, military bases, firefighting training facilities, chemical plants, and refineries.
- Manufacturing or chemical production facilities that produce or use PFAS – for example at chrome plating, electronics, and certain textile and paper manufacturers.
- Food – for example, in fish caught from water contaminated by PFAS and dairy products from livestock exposed to PFAS.
- Food packaging – for example in grease-resistant paper, fast food containers/wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, and candy wrappers.
- Household products and dust – for example in stain and water-repellent used on carpets, upholstery, clothing, and other fabrics; cleaning products; non-stick cookware; paints, varnishes, and sealants.
- Personal care products – for example in certain shampoos, dental floss, and cosmetics.
- Biosolids – for example, fertilizer from wastewater treatment plants that is used on agricultural lands can affect ground and surface water and animals that graze on the land
How did PFAS enter the City's groundwater?At this time, the City is not sure how PFAS ended up in some of the City’s groundwater. We are working with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to determine the source of the PFAS in the City wells where it has been detected. We have been told that looking for the source can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. More information will be shared when it is available.
What is the City doing to ensure the safety of our water supply?Apple Valley learned in 2021 that two of the City’s wells exceeded the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Health Risk Index (HRI) limits (not an enforceable limit) for PFAS. As soon as this was learned, these wells were taken out of service and have not been used since. At no time has water leaving the City’s Water Treatment Plant (WTP) exceeded any Health Risk Index levels.
MDH collects water samples from all the City’s wells on a quarterly basis and collects water samples monthly from the City’s WTP discharge point. These samples confirm that the treated water going into the City’s public water system continues to meet the MDH HRI limits and the proposed Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for PFAS.
Apple Valley is working with a water quality consultant regarding PFAS mitigation and, if necessary, treatment. This firm has been involved with other cities in Minnesota and across the country concerning PFAS.
Should I be alarmed?No. At no time has water leaving the City’s WTP and going into the public distribution system exceeded any water quality limit or MCL. Apple Valley continues to monitor all wells, the WTP, and the distribution system.
Is it safe to use and drink my tap water?Yes. Water from the Apple Valley Water Treatment Plant meets current and proposed limits for PFAS.
Which City well is serving my area?Apple Valley has 17 wells that all pump to a central Water Treatment Plant (WTP). Once at the WTP, all the water is mixed and then treated before being pumped into the public water system. The water system throughout town is all interconnected and, therefore, it’s nearly impossible to determine which well serves a certain area of town.
How do I know if my private well is impacted by PFAS?There are a few homes within Apple Valley that are still on their own private well. These wells are not tested or monitored for PFAS by the City of Apple Valley. However, you can have your water tested by a private lab. Additionally, some testing can be done by Dakota County.
At this time, the MDH does not recommend that every private well get tested for PFAS. If you use a private well for drinking water that is included in an existing environmental investigation near a known source of contamination, the MPCA will notify you if your well might be affected. Here is where you can look to see if your private well may be near a known source of PFAS contamination:
- Minnesota Groundwater Contamination Atlas | Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
- What's in My Neighborhood | Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
- Interactive Dashboard for PFAS Testing in Drinking Water | MN Dept. of Health
Where can I learn more about PFAS?
- Wellhead Protection Plan | City of Apple Valley
- Drinking Water Quality Report | City of Apple Valley
- Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) | MN Dept. of Health
- PFAS Standards for Drinking Water | MN Dept. of Health
- Minnesota's PFAS Blueprint | Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
- PFAS | Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Where can I learn more about Apple Valley's drinking water?
For more information about Apple Valley's drinking water call (952) 953-2400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.