EPA grant will extend city water lines to chromium-contaminated home wells

Feds don’t name suspected source of chromium
By: 
Ryan Lewis, Editor

Allegan Township officials said Monday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had officially committed to funding water line extensions out from city limits to several homes with contaminated wells.

At the township board’s meeting, supervisor Steve Schulz said he had met with an EPA official last week who confirmed the grant had been awarded.

By email, an EPA spokesperson told The Allegan County News, “This summer, EPA is focused on connecting two residential properties to city water.”

Schulz said, “As most of you know, we’ve got some chromium in our water along M-89, by the (former) Allegan Metal Finishing.”

Fire destroyed the business in March 2015. Three nearby wells since the fire turned up levels of chromium that exceeded EPA limits for safe drinking and bathing. The agency said the metal chromium is used mainly for making steel and other alloys. Chromium compounds are also used for chrome plating. The metal can be a carcinogen when inhaled or ingested.

Last week, an EPA spokesperson said, “EPA is also attempting to work with the potentially responsible party to conduct a groundwater investigation on-site.”

The spokesperson would specify neither who the potentially responsible party nor what evidence led the agency to suspect their involvement.

“EPA is working to determine the source of pollution affecting local wells and impacting some residents in Allegan,” the spokesperson said. “It is EPA policy not to comment on the details of pending enforcement actions. EPA will continue to provide assistance and support as needed to Allegan Township, (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) and other local authorities to restore residents’ access to safe drinking water.”

No details were provided regarding when the investigation would begin, how much it would cost or how long it would take to conclude.

As for the water line extensions, the EPA grant will cover not only the lines but also the costs of connecting directly to the four residences, Schulz said.

“It’s pretty awesome,” he said. “We’re still looking to get it done this construction season.”

The township spent $70,000 to cover the cost of the engineering for the project, which will extend the lines out along M-89 and south to the ends of 29th Street and Jeffrey Drive. The engineering is nearly complete.

Township officials have considered, but not yet approved, funding extensions to the nearby mobile home park. Schulz said Betten Baker Auto had some interest in an extension, too.

“That remains to be seen if we’re going to do any of that,” he said.

Contact Ryan Lewis at rmlewis@allegannews.com or (269) 673-5534.

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