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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Vancouver OKs contract to design water treatment system for PFAS

By Carlos Fuentes, Columbian staff writer
Published: September 19, 2023, 5:46pm

The city of Vancouver is moving forward with plans to create a treatment system for toxic chemicals in the city’s water supply.

Earlier this year, the city found that three of its nine well fields exceeded state levels for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS — known as “forever chemicals” due to their slow deterioration rates, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

To combat this, Vancouver intends to build a PFAS treatment system in the coming years — a $15.7 million project put into motion Monday night when the city council approved a contract for a preliminary design.

The city chose engineering firm Brown and Caldwell to create an initial design of the system, which will be complete by April 2024, according to a city memo. Construction will begin in late 2024 or early 2025, according to Tyler Clary, water systems engineering manager for the city.

“Brown and Caldwell has a significant amount of experience in the design of treatment systems, including PFAS treatment systems,” Clary said. “Their statement of qualifications showed that they will work as a collaborative team with city staff, ensuring that the needs of our water treatment plant operators are met and that what is designed and constructed meets PFAS regulatory standards.”

The city will build the new system at Water Station 14, located at 6803 N.E. 78th St., which has consistently produced the highest levels of toxic chemicals in samples from all Vancouver wells, according to a city memo.

The city is paying the firm $718,700 for the initial design. The money comes from the state’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which awarded Vancouver a $12.7 million grant for the project earlier this year.

The city will cover the extra construction costs with a water utility construction fund, according to Clary.

After the preliminary design is finished next year, the city will award another contract for a final design, Clary said. This second contract will likely exceed $1 million, according to Clary.

Columbian staff writer