Swan Lake: New worries, same distrust

People who felt burned by government reaction to Swan Lake flooding are not calmed by government assurances about PFAs.
Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 4:42 PM PDT
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LEMMON VALLEY, Nev. (KOLO) - Lemmon Valley residents came to a meeting Friday morning with a lot of questions about a substance many had probably never heard of until recently. There were few answers but it once again revealed a lack of trust between residents and local government.

The issue this time is PFAS -- an artificial compound found in products ranging from Teflon and Scotch Guard to fire-fighting foam. It’s been linked to a number of health concerns and, it was just recently learned, it turned up in elevated levels in samples taken from Swan Lake two years ago.

The meeting was called to brief residents on the issue and assure them they’d be kept informed. It’s not clear anyone was reassured by what they heard. There’s a long history of distrust between Lemmon Valley residents and the city and county dating back at least to the response to, and issues that led to, flooding in 2017.

“We are compassionate to what’s going on out here,” County Engineer Dwayne Smith said later, “but we don’t know exactly what the issues are with PFAS right now. We will figure that out.”

Longtime resident and Swan Lake activist Tammy Holt-Still has her doubts. “I don’t think it’s good faith. I think they’re trying to cover their butts because they have had to have known about it for some time.”

Smith says the county hadn’t been testing for the compound because it’s not required to, but since the concern was raised samples have shown no elevated levels in the lake or the area’s wastewater treatment plant. So, the source of the PFAS remains unknown.