February 25, 2019

Concerned About PFAS In Your Water? Here’s What To Do

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

The news of water pollution on Art Schaap’s Clovis, New Mexico, dairy sent chills down the spines of dairy producers across the country who live near military installations. If you live near an Air Force, Air Guard or Navy base, James Bearzi, senior regulatory and environmental specialist at Glorieta Geoscience Inc., an environmental consultancy working with dairy producers in Clovis, offers the following tips regarding per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).


  1. Contact your environmental consultant. While he says most producers have environmental professionals they work with, not all consultants are created equal. “There are many who do routine dairy compliance work, and we do that kind of work, too. But there are many who really don't do the kind of specialized work on PFAS we do,” he says. “You want to make sure that you get someone who's qualified and can develop the kind of comprehensive response needed so you can be proactive.”
  2. Do your homework. “Understand your groundwater,” Bearzi says. How deep is it? Which way does it flow? Is there any sampling of public record? “Here in New Mexico public records are pretty easy to get, so it's really not tough to get information out of our regulatory agency,” he said. “I’ve got all the Air Force's sampling data.”
  3. Conduct independent sampling. Your environmental consultant can help you sample your water. Bearzi says sampling for PFAS requires special sampling and analytical methods. All sampling should be done with specific goals and objectives in mind. Develop a plan for that before you contact anyone else, including your state regulating agencies.


At this point Bearzi’s advice diverges.


If you don’t find PFAS in your samples, “Then you have some time to figure out what to do next,” he says.  


If you do detect the chemicals in your water, then it’s time to get strategic. “You need to develop a strategy for approaching the potential responsible party, whether it be a federal agency or a manufacturer. Our experience here in New Mexico is that your strategy has to be multi-pronged,” he explained, “and has to include local attempts to interact with the base commander, whether it is Army, Navy, or Air Force, or top executives if it’s a private concern. The plan also needs to include engaging your elected officials at the local, national and at the state level, and developing a sound media strategy to get your message out the right way at the right time.”


Next, it’s time to get sound legal advice. “Get a lawyer who has a successful track record in PFAS or environmental litigation. A good lawyer should know how to both compel whoever the responsible party is to do the right thing, as well as develop the best strategy to collect on damages that were incurred by you, be it economically, physically, emotionally, or medically.”



Read more about PFAS here:

Air Force Pollution Forces New Mexico Dairy To Euthanize 4,000 Cows


What You Need To Know About PFAS


Nine Steps For Managing A Crisis