Evanston’s City Council will be asked Monday night to approve a $1.57 million study of potential techniques to get PFAS, so-called forever chemicals, out of the city’s water supply.

The proposed contract with CDM Smith Incorporated addresses concerns raised by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in late 2021.

It informed the city that two PFAS — perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOA) — were found in Evanston’s water supply at levels slightly above the state’s guidance level of 2.0 parts per trillion.

In a series of tests tests, reported on the city’s website, the levels of PFOS and PFOA were each in the range of 2.2 to 2.4 ppt.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year proposed drinking water standards for those chemicals of 4.0 ppt — higher than the levels found in Evanston.

The federal agency is expected to announce final, enforceable rules for levels of those chemicals early next year.

CDM Smith offered the second-lowest price for the work among the six firms that submitted bids, and a staff panel gave it by far the highest rating in reviewing the proposals.

The city has budgeted $500,000 for the project in this year’s budget and will need to include funds for the rest of the project costs in the city’s 2024 and 2025 budgets.

PFAS are manmade chemicals used in a wide array of consumer and industrial products, including fabric coatings, household cleaning products, non-stick coatings and firefighting foams.

They are considered to be endocrine disrupting chemicals that interfere with hormone systems.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Instead of forcing us to pay for elections for people that we wouldn’t vote for, that money should go towards something like this. Makes sense right? We’ll see how they vote on this one.

  2. Evanston funds will pay the consultant to develop and/or claim expertise that many other water systems will pay for, since the problem isn’t unique to Evanston. It’s a shame the City couldn’t find some way to share in this benefit. Also a shame that Northwestern, which might be knowledgeable in such matters, doesn’t step up to assist. Maybe nobody asked them.

  3. Are we really paying a consultant to spend the next 3 years to study how to reinvent the wheel on this? And then how long to choose a solution, fund it and implement? How many “forever” molecules will have become part of us in the interim? My in-house Reverse Osmosis filter removes PFOS. Is it really unknown how to do that commercially?

    1. 5 minutes of searching “municipal pfas filtering” showed several methods for doing this at the water supply level. Hopefully they aren’t just scraping / compiling general knowledge with ChatGPT and taking us all for a ride.

      If this study also involves hands on monitoring, experimentation, and testing of our actual water supply, that’s another thing entirely. There are a lot of ‘forever chemicals’ and apparently not all filter methods are good at all of them. At least that’s what I picked up in my 5 minutes of research + my basic high school science education.

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