High PFAS levels push city water plan in Algoma Twp.

31 homes in area of Wolven and Jewell avenues test above federal advisory limit

plainfield township water tower
A Plainfield Township water tower. (Dec. 19, 2017)


ALGOMA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Tests have found high levels of PFAS, a likely carcinogen, at 31 homes in the southern part of Algoma Township, as far as two miles from Wolverine Worldwide’s former House Street dump, the state said.

The Algoma Township findings are in PFAS test zones between Wolven and Jewell avenues NE, north of 10 Mile Road, straddling US-131.

In those areas, crews have tested 404 wells for PFAS. Of the 169 results so far, 65 tested positive for PFAS. Thirty-one of those are above the federal advisory limit for PFAS in drinking water, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said on Tuesday.

A well at one home hit 9,800 parts per trillion, 140 times the EPA limit of 70 ppt, according to the DEQ. One homeowner in the area told Target 8 that he just got his results back and his level was more than 10,000 ppt.

The findings are similar to those around the old House Street dump two miles to the south in Belmont. In that area, 30 wells tested above the EPA limit. The highest in that area hit 38,000 ppt.

Toxic tap water, House Street NE, testing areas
Map: The testing areas north and south of Wolverine Worldwide’s old House Street NE dump.

The results are accelerating plans to extend municipal water into several neighborhoods that not long ago were farm fields.

On Tuesday, crews were installing whole-house filters at homes in the upscale Wellington Ridge neighborhood west of Wolven Avenue — paid for by Wolverine.

“There’s a little fear in the air right now, but hopefully it’s just temporary,” Algoma Township Supervisor Kevin Green told Target 8.

Wolverine and the DEQ started testing wells in the Wolven and Jewell avenue areas after reports that Wolverine dumped sludge laced with PFAS on farm fields decades ago.

Wolverine used Scotchgard, which contained PFAS, to treat shoes at its now-closed Rockford tannery. The company dumped much of the tannery sludge at the House Street dump until 1970. Some farmers also used sludge as fertilizer.

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

“These issues are correctible,” Green said. “Sometimes environmental issues are not and this is.”

The area around a Meijer store north of 10 Mile in Algoma Township already relies on Plainfield Township’s water system. Algoma Township wants to extend that service north into Wellington Ridge and to other homes east of US-131 at a cost that could reach $2 million, Green said. There are no plans for municipal water on the other side of 131 in the less-populated Jewell Avenue area.

“This has been a priority for quite some time, but of course PFAS makes it that much more of a priority for Plainfield and Algoma to provide our residents with the best quality water we could possibly have,” Green said.

Brenda Waite, who lives in the Wolven area, said she is still waiting for her test results but is worried after a nearby well tested at 9,800 ppt. She wants municipal water.

“That would be a good plan,” Waite said. “You can’t be proactive anymore. You have to be reactive, so city water would be a good solution.”

The township is negotiating with Wolverine to pay to extend the system.

“We’re hoping,” said Green, the township supervisor. “Wolverine has been fair so far with most of this stuff, so we’re hoping that they will pay a good chunk of that.”

Plainfield Township also is negotiating with Wolverine to pipe municipal water to the House Street zone — an area that has grown, with a price tag that will jump from the original $4 million. Plainfield Superintendent Cameron Van Wyngarden expects the cost to exceed $10 million.

Plainfield also plans to spend up to $400,000 for filters for its water system, which has low levels of PFAS. PFAS levels are averaging 8 ppt, well below the EPA advisory limit.

“Our goal is to make it as pure as possible,” Van Wyngarden said. “If zero is achievable, then zero is our goal.”

The township hopes to install the filter system by spring 2018. It also hopes to start construction on the House Street water line by the spring and finish it by the end of the year, Van Wyngarden said.

Algoma Township hopes to get municipal water to residents around Wolven Avenue in 2019.

Wolverine Worldwide provided this statement to Target 8 Tuesday:

“The water quality issues in our community are very complex and data is still being collected. Any solution must be collaborative, based on complete data, and include all involved parties and entities. For its part, Wolverine is actively addressing specific legacy issues related to its use of 3M’s Scotchgard™ that contained PFOA and PFOS – this includes providing custom, whole-house filtration systems that offer an immediate and effective solution. We will continue to collaborate with local, state and federal agencies, and we remain committed to partnering on solutions that give the community the confidence it deserves in its drinking 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: