116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CAMANCHE — The Mississippi River town of Camanche is set to get two new deep wells for drinking water to replace shallower ones that are contaminated by “forever chemicals.
The multinational 3M company — a major manufacturer of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS — will pay for the wells, according to the Camanche city administrator.
3M operates a facility north of Cordova, Ill., that has been identified as the likely source of contamination of the city’s water. The facility employs about 500 people and makes the adhesives used in Post-it notes, Scotch tape and other popular products.
The forever chemicals also were found in the public water supplies of Burlington, Camanche, Davenport, Muscatine and Keokuk and at a mobile home park near Muscatine, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources
In an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 3M also will pay to mitigate drinking water contamination in private wells in the Camanche area. That can be accomplished with new, deeper wells or treatment systems.
If the EPA approves the plan, those wells might be online in mid- to late-2024, City Administrator Andrew Kida said.
Camanche has three wells. Two are shallower and have been the primary sources of drinking water for the city’s residents.
The deep well — which goes to a depth of about 1,290 feet — is not contaminated but has been used as a backup during periods of high water demand.
Kida said testing of that well’s capabilities was underway to determine whether it could be used as a primary source to diminish the amount of PFAS in the city’s treated drinking water.
Tests in October of the city’s water found concentrations of two of the chemicals were 3 parts per trillion for PFOA and 11 parts per trillion for PFOS.
The EPA’s interim health advisories for the chemicals — or the speculative safe thresholds — are 0.004 and 0.02 parts per trillion, respectively.
It’s unclear how soon the city might be able to switch to the deep well as the primary source of water.
“If we can get that thing chugging, we may have even lower levels,” Kida said. “At these levels — if you read the information out there — these are levels that require a really long-term exposure to create any serious issues or concerns to people in at-risk categories.”
This article was first published in the Iowa Capital Dispatch.