EVMWD joins lawsuit to fight water contaminants

Elsinore Valley Municipal Water District’s (EVMWD) lawsuit against 3M Company, Chemours, Dupont and several other companies is the latest in a series of legal actions brought against the defendants for their role in introducing the PFAS chemical into the water supply. EVMWD’s lawsuit alleges their water supply has been contaminated by these chemicals that were discharged into the environment by products manufactured by the defendants.

Several water providers have had their cases consolidated in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina as part of a Multi-District Litigation (MDL). As part of that process, EVMWD was able to file suit directly into the MDL.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals, including PFOA, PFOS and GenX, which is a chemical replacement for PFOA. PFAS is found in thousands of products that are used daily, including shampoo, clothing, cleaning products, food wrappers, non-stick cookware, firefighting foam and carpet, to name a few.   For more than 70 years, PFAS have been manufactured and used in variety of industries worldwide. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to certain PFAS can lead to adverse health effects in humans. While these impacts were known to manufacturers, no action to mitigate their release was taken.

The lawsuit seeks compensation for the costs and damages related to PFAS contamination, including the investigation, monitoring, treatment, testing, remediation, removal, and disposal of PFAS; and the costs associated with obtaining additional water supplies.

EVMWD has taken several steps to alleviate the impact of PFAs in local water supplies and actions to ensure water meets state and federal regulations. In March 2020, PFAS were detected in several groundwater wells and in Canyon Lake. The well water is currently being blended with imported water to ensure water meets the state regulations and safety standards. The Canyon Lake water supply was above State Response Levels and the water source was taken offline. EVMWD is replacing this supply with imported water from Metropolitan Water District. EVMWD has evaluated multiple treatment alternatives to treat for PFAS in Canyon Lake and pilot testing is currently underway.

“EVMWD has proactively reduced the trace amounts of PFAS found in our local water supplies through state regulated blending and taking impacted sources offline. While this mitigates the problem temporarily, the cost to continue blending and importing water to ensure drinking water supplies for our community is high,” said General Manager Greg Thomas. “Health and safety are our number one priority. EVMWD is investing in new technology and infrastructure to ensure that the PFAS levels are permanently reduced. That cost should not come on the backs of our ratepayers, who did not cause this issue.”

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