CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - Residents got the chance to vent Thursday evening about the Gerald R. Ford Airport's plans to pipe de-icer into the Thornapple River.
More than 250 people, many of them riverside residents, met with airport and state Department of Environmental Quality officials at the Cascade Public Library. The line was out the door at the library beforehand, and the meeting itself was standing room only.
For many, there was a common theme: Don't dump the propylene glycol into the water.
"Would you drink the water? If you can't do it, don't let it go in our river," one resident said.
Many said they didn't trust the airport and that the airport hadn't been open enough. Some complained that the DEQ wasn't doing enough to protect them.
"I'd like to speak to the DEQ, asking you to stand with us and make a permit that has teeth to it," one resident said.
The DEQ has ordered the airport to stop allowing de-icer in its groundwater to drain through Trout Creek.
"Anyone who wants to go out there can out there and check out Trout Creek: There's no fish, there's no frogs, there's no plants growing in the water. Nothing," resident Joey Gindzin said.
Residents are afraid the same will happen to the Thornapple.
The airport's solution is to build a mile-long pipe with a natural filtration system leading to the river. They say it will leave 7% of the glycol going into the river. In an average winter, that's about 6,000 gallons.
"It seems like the we're talking about an old solution: The solution to pollution is dilution. But it's not. It's containment and recycling," resident Al Parent said.
Airport officials said Thursday they were frustrated by what they call misinformation. They say the system actually will mean less glycol going into the river.
Also Thursday, DEQ official Phil Argiroff defended the agency's handling of the airport runoff.
"In terms of the DEQ, it's our mission to protect water quality," Argiroff said.
Residents have until June 28 to comment on the proposal. Residents should be able to get their questions answered at a public hearing hosted by the DEQ at 6:30 p.m. June 13, also at the Cascade Public Library.
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