Bar outside tainted water buffer zone adds filter

Vestal Inn uses township water, but owners say they're not taking any chances

Vestal Inn, Belmont
Vestal Inn in Belmont bought a water filtration system amid concerns of tainted water in the area. (Dec. 6, 2017)


PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — As the Belmont area deals with contamination in residential wells, one local restaurant and bar is taking the safety of its water into its own hands.

The Vestal Inn is the first business 24 Hour News 8 has heard of to add its own water filtration system. The owners say they wanted to give peace of mind to their customers, who they say are like family.

“It’s like ‘Cheers’ — the same people sit in the same stools every day and tell you the same stories,” co-owner Barbara Fuhs said.

“Everybody in here, I can name them all. You know, it’s just something special,” co-owner John Fuhs added.

The inn uses water from the Plainfield Township system, which has not been found to contain levels of the chemical PFAS or PFOS, a likely carcinogen, higher than the federal advisory limit. So far, all of the homes with high PFAS levels draw their water from wells believed to be contaminated by waste from shoemaker Wolverine Worldwide. Additionally, the Vestal Inn — which sits along West River Drive near Ethelwin Avenue — is well outside the “buffer zones” that outline the areas where dangerous contamination has been found.

>>Inside woodtv.com: Complete coverage of the toxic tap water investigation

Regardless, the owners of the inn say they aren’t taking any chances.

“I care for them. I want them to be healthy. I don’t want nothing to happen to them,” John Fuhs said of his customers.

The owners’ son Troy Fuhs, who also manages the bar, came up with the idea to add a filter.

“From what I understand, it cuts out 90 percent of the PFOS,” Troy Fuhs said, showing 24 Hour News 8 the new equipment.

On Wednesday, Clear Water Solutions installed a carbon filtration system at the restaurant and bar.

“Uncertainty is … the reason we stepped forward to do it as soon as we did because we just don’t know,” Troy Fuhs said.

The move is making customers feel even more at home.

“I feel rest assured when I order a glass of water that it’s going to be clean,” customer Larry Miller said.

“We come in here and eat, drink all the time and I’m drinking water right now, so it’s nice to know that they did that,” customer Tim Aley said.

Aley says he worries about the safety of water pretty much everywhere in the Belmont area.

“Most places in the area I do because we don’t live too far from here,” he said.

The filtration system cost roughly $1,500, but the owners say it was well worth the investment. They think other businesses will likely follow suit.

>>App users: Interactive map of toxic tap water

RESOURCES FOR BELMONT RESIDENTS:

If you are eligible for a whole-house water filtration system from Wolverine Worldwide, you can call 616.866.5627 or email HouseStreet@wwwinc.com.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Environmental Assistance Center can be reached at 1.800.662.9278.

Websites with additional information on the contamination: