Otsego water test results delayed two weeks by DEQ lab

By: 
Ryan Lewis, Editor

Though state and local officials expected full results of water testing in the Otsego area to be complete by now, the Allegan County Health Department announced Sept. 7 they now expect them in an additional two weeks.

Health department medical director Dr. Richard Tooker said he believed it was due to the laboratory requiring more water for its analysis.

“I think it’s due to the lab indicating there was not enough water (in the sample) from some wells,” Tooker said. “Since the (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) doesn’t want to release piecemeal results they’ve collected more water.

“Also, I think there was a need to have a secondary lab do quality control. They’re making sure; I think this is being extra prudent. We’re talking about some pretty important test results. They’re going to do due diligence.”

Additionally, another residence has been notified its well has tested positive for dioxin, bringing the total to 17.

On Sept. 1, the health department first announced those preliminary results, which noted the presence but not the concentration of the highly toxic chemical. At that time, 14 were in Allegan County and two were in Alamo Township.

After a public effort to spur state agencies to action earlier this year, 56 private wells were tested in July for hundreds of chemicals connected to waste from local paper mills and that were dumped locally and applied to fields and roads in the area decades ago.

Dioxins are a group of chemicals that may be formed during chemical and paper manufacturing. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, dioxins can cause cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, damage to the immune system, and can interfere with hormones.

The water is unsafe to drink, and residents with affected wells are being provided bottled water for the time being.

Residents with questions can call the Allegan County Health Department’s Hotline (269) 686-4546 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Residents can also contact the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services Toxicologist at 1-800-648-6942 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday for further information about dioxins.

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