Board approves feasibility study for water system extension
Tue, 01/03/2023 - 5:36pm caleb
Grayling Charter Township looks at possible solution for homes affected by PFAS water contamination
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
The Grayling Charter Township Board of Trustees recently approved the allocation of some of the township’s American Rescue Plan Act money for a feasibility study with regard to providing municipal water “to residents with contaminated well water” near Camp Grayling and the Grayling Army Airfield as various entities continue their PFAS investigations in those areas.
A representative from C2AE – “an architecture, engineering, and infrastructure design firm,” according to the company’s website – spoke to the board about the potential feasibility study during a regular meeting of the trustees on Wednesday, December 21.
According to C2AE, the study would examine the possible expansion of the Grayling Charter Township/Beaver Creek Township water system to offer an option to homes with well water contaminated by PFAS.
Grayling Charter Township Supervisor Lacey Stephan III said the water system has a well in an area not affected by PFAS contamination, it has a large storage tank and a sewer system, and it currently serves the “Four Mile Road corridor” (Kirtland Community College, Arauco, Georgia-Pacific).
The feasibility study would satisfy Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and Department of Defense CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act) requirements for project funding, according to C2AE.
C2AE representatives said the project would include “coordination” to “see how the funding with the Department of Defense aligns with EGLE funding.”
“The goal is to service all the areas affected by PFAS,” according to C2AE.
Currently, residents with well water contaminated by PFAS in the Camp Grayling and Grayling Army Airfield areas are using whole-house water filters and point-of-use filters to clean their drinking water.
A representative from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – during a recent meeting of the Camp Grayling Restoration Advisory Board – recommended that affected homeowners use both types of filters in their homes.
According to the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team, “if you have been notified that PFAS were found in your drinking water well sample, alternate water or a filtration system may be available to you” through “your local health department.”
Stephan – during the December 21 meeting – said the PFAS investigation “has been going on for a long time,” the “CERCLA process is winding down,” and the solution phase is approaching. Stephan said one possible solution is “extending the municipal water supply to affected residents.”
Township officials expressed concerns that as the investigations finish and solutions begin affected residents will have to pay for filters or water service through the proposed extended system in order to have safe drinking water, even though the contamination originated from the military sites.
C2AE representatives said the process would include attempts to get the Department of Defense to pay its “fair share.”
Stephan asked the board for approval of $18,000 for C2AE to conduct the feasibility study and advocate on the behalf of the township for the project.
The board approved the funding request (using American Rescue Plan Act money) with a 6-0 vote (one member absent).
“We obviously have to be ahead of this game,” Stephan said.
According to multiple reports, local military facilities such as the Grayling Army Airfield and Camp Grayling have PFAS water contamination, and documents prepared for the Army National Guard and the US Army Corps of Engineers suggest that local PFAS contamination at the two sites came from “aqueous film forming foam released during firefighting activities or training, although other PFAS sources are possible.”
“Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. PFOA and PFOS have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals. Both chemicals are very persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time. There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects,” according to District Health Department #10. “The most-studied PFAS chemicals are PFOA and PFOS. Studies indicate that PFOA and PFOS can cause reproductive and developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects in laboratory animals. Both chemicals have caused tumors in animals. The most consistent findings are increased cholesterol levels among exposed populations, with more limited findings related to: low infant birth weights, effects on the immune system, cancer (for PFOA), and thyroid hormone disruption (for PFOS).”