North Bay, ON – The City of North Bay has proactively undertaken a study to evaluate options for enhancing its water treatment process to meet potential future regulatory changes related to per- and polyfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS).
The treatability study, which is being funded through a $20 million-contribution agreement between the City of North Bay and the Department of National Defence (DND) for PFAS remediation, was launched late last year as part of the ongoing work of the City’s PFAS consultant, Jacobs Consultancy Canada Inc.
Though the level of PFAS detected in North Bay’s municipal water supply remains lower than all current federal and provincial drinking water screening values, the City is proactively investigating PFAS treatment options in light of evolving PFAS science, guidelines and objectives.
Most recently, Health Canada initiated public consultation on a draft objective of 30 nanograms per liter (ng/L) for PFAS substances in Canadian drinking water supplies, which is lower than the interim advice value of 70ng/L set by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP).
As PFAS is a contaminant which is being studied extensively, guidelines and objectives are continuously developing based on new information. In Ontario, drinking water requirements are ultimately established by the provincial government.
The study now underway is expected to be completed in the spring and will provide the City with options should additional treatment be required in the future.
PFAS are manmade substances found in many consumer and industrial products, including firefighting foam. Past use of the North Bay Jack Garland Airport lands for firefighter training between the early 1970s and mid-1990s has been identified as the main source of PFAS on the airport property. Although firefighting foam containing PFAS was an accepted practice and was in accordance with regulations at that time, its use is very limited today.
Since 2017, the City has been working collaboratively with DND, the MECP, and the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit to support ongoing testing and monitoring for PFAS in Trout Lake, Lees Creek and residential wells in close proximity to the Jack Garland Airport lands. In order to expedite the remediation process, the City also completed its own environmental investigations into PFAS soil and groundwater contamination on the airport site.
A long-standing drinking water advisory for Lees Creek remains in place as well as a fish consumption advisory for fish from the creek issued by the MECP.
Questions regarding the health impacts of PFAS should be directed to the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit, while questions related to PFAS legislation in Ontario, should be directed to the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.