Crews are shown working in early November on the project to extend city water lines south into the township. (File photo)

Water extension completed to Allegan Township’s spoiled wells

By: 
Ryan Lewis, Editor

Work to link city water lines with several houses with contaminated wells in Allegan Township is complete.

Allegan Township supervisor Steve Schulz told board members at their meeting Monday, Dec. 3, that Milbocker Construction had completed the project ahead of schedule, though some landscaping may have to wait until spring. Most of the work occurred in November.

“A lot of trees had to be removed; they had to bore under the highway in a couple spots, but it was successful,” Schulz said. “Those people won’t have green ice cubes anymore—that’s what they had before.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency funded construction for the roughly $500,000 project to extend city water lines to Jeffrey Drive and 29th Street.

Since a massive fire that destroyed Allegan Metal Finishing in March 2015 along M-89, three residential wells turned up levels of chromium that exceeded the 100 micrograms-per-liter drinking water limit set by the EPA. One detected at 22,000 micrograms per liter, according to the EPA.

The township spent $70,000 to cover the cost of the engineering for the project.

“We think that was well worth it,” Schulz said. “And those wells have been plugged; or, if they haven’t, they will be.”

The EPA has not yet announced details of its investigation as to the source chromium, 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.

Schulz said the township remains interested in extending the city lines farther still. The township is waiting to hear from the owner of two mobile home parks just to the south of the former AMFCO. Schulz said owner Kevin Kammeraad was having engineering done to see how much it will cost to update the infrastructure within his parks. Schulz also said the township would also need to know the city’s connection fee.

With the onset of winter, the additional extension would at least have to wait until next spring or summer.

“Betten Baker would be across the street. That gives you an idea of where we’d stop,” Schulz said. “We’re still considering that if (Kammeraad) is willing to hook up.”

He explained they are pursuing the project because they anticipate the chromium contamination to spread and infiltrate other nearby wells.

“Quite often, where the most water is drawn out of is where the plume could go,” he said. “We wanted to get it out there ahead of time, shovel ready, in case that contamination happened. There’s a lot of testing out there (AMFCO) by the EPA that has to be done. Preliminary tests have shown cyanide in some places.”

He stopped short of saying AMFCO was the source of the contamination, said “it’s probably a good bet.”

“They did coat a lot of their stuff with chromium, I believe. I guess the suspicion is there. There’s going to be complete oversight from the EPA to delve into that to see if there is somebody that is responsible for that. Have to wait for all that detective work.”

He also noted that neighboring Allegan Tubular, owned by some of the same family that had owned AMFCO, was served by bottled water and has expressed interest in connecting to city water.

 

Fence

Township members also approved the low bid for white PVC fencing approximately 1,700 feet on three sides of the township-run Hudson Corners Cemetery.

All Size Fencing of Allegan was selected over two other bidders. The township recently obtained property from the City of Allegan’s adjacent industrial park to expand the cemetery. This project was planned for in the budget.

It will cost approximately $18,000.

Treasurer Jane Waanders said, “This encompasses our old part of the cemetery, our second section and our new section along industrial drive” but doesn’t include fencing along 118th Avenue. A survey will need to be done first before the fence goes in.

 

Leaf pickup

As the township had left a message on its website stating that its leaf pickup service will be a free service, even for multiple requests, the township will refund several residents’ bills who had paid for their third and fourth requests.

Schulz said, “We been pretty successful in getting people to rake their leaves to the edge in high-density residential areas. In the past, we have charged $25 per pickup. This year, we didn’t charge anything until the calls got busy and our recycling money started to deplete a little bit.”

They had decided at that time to charge $40 for third or fourth pickups.

Board member Jim Connell said, “Yeah, if we advertised it as free, we can’t charge for it.”

Waanders said that, since costs to pay the private companies for the pickups depleted the township’s recycling funds, some will end up being covered by the township’s general fund.

Schulz said it was worth funding the program as it had definitely cut down on smoke alarms being triggered at the local schools due to smoke from people burning the leaves.

That said, the township will be evaluating its recycling spending to decide whether or not to charge for multiple pickups.

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

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