FENNVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) - Cleaner Fennville city water could flow to people living innearby townships with contaminated private wells.
"Anything to get folks clean water is a good thing," said KariCraton, who has dealt with well contamination in her home nearFennville. Craton brought the problem she and her neighbors haveexperienced to the attention of well-known environmental activistErin Brockovich.
The plan pushed by the Michigan Department of Agriculture hasbeen under discussion for a couple of months, city officials told24 Hour News 8, but was announced Wednesday in a statement fromBirds Eye Foods.
Some private wells at homes in Clyde and Manlius townships, nearwhere the Fennville Birds Eye plant sprays its wastewater, arecontaminated with heavy metals such as arsenic, manganese and iron.The DEQ has determined that organic compounds released in thewastewater have allowed the heavy metals to enter the water.
A Birds Eye spokeswoman said the plan would "address the waterquality issues in the broader Fennville area, not only those thatmay be related to our facility."
The company statement said the plan would include a system toremove iron from the city's water in addition to extending theservice area. That could address concerns from Craton and othersabout city water quality.
In addition to the push to extend city water, Birds Eye isplanning a $3.5 million upgrade to its wastewater system, pendingDEQ approval, according to a company statement. The upgrade isexpected to "nearly eliminate" organic matter in thewastewater.
Pumping city water to affected residents could be a long-termsolution, since cleaning up the groundwater heavy metal issue couldtake many years. Birds Eye has been providing bottled water to someresidents.
The Birds Eye statement said the company is working with severalstate agencies, along with the city and townships, to obtain grantfunding for the project. A spokeswoman said Birds Eye has agreed topay for "engineering and other design work before the grant isapproved, to help expedite the project."
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