Advisory of the Day
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LA RONGE AIRPORT, SK: PFAS TRIGGER PERMANENT DO NOT CONSUME WATER ADVISORY
The Barber Field Airport located two miles northeast of La Ronge and on the southwestern shore of Lac la Ronge is dealing with the legacy of past fire-fighting procedures that used a fire-fighting foam which is now banned.
WaterToday spoke with Airport Manager, Jim Burr, who told us, “We decided to put the Do Not Consume Advisory in place. We had testing done and did our research looking at corrective actions and decided the best course of action was not to provide potable water. We have bottled water available.”
The first airstrip was built by Canada’s Department of Natural Resources in 1947 and used for mail freight and forest fire patrol. Canada’s first smoke jumping base was founded in La Ronge in 1949. Parachuters were trained to jump from aircraft for initial attack on forest fires.
Fast-forward to 1998, the Airport was transferred to the Town of La Ronge and is the third busiest airport in Saskatchewan next to Saskatoon and Regina, serving as a transportation gateway to many First Nations communities and industry in the north as well as providing access to float-based and ski-based operations.
“We explored the possibility of the Government of Canada’s responsibility in mitigating the presence of PFAS and PFOA in the water table since they owned the airport before the town. However, after consultation with our legal team we decided the best course of action at this point was simply to provide bottled water and issues a Do Not Consume Advisory.”
PFAS are named the “forever chemicals” and were used in firefighting foam. These contaminants have made their slow migration through groundwater. Because of their resilient nature they do not break down in the environment or the human body.
“If there is a way to get rid of these contaminants in our water we would certainly move forward with it. But for now, we are comfortable with an advisory and issuing bottled water.” Burr concluded.
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