Some homes left out of PFAS settlement

Target 8

ALGOMA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The $69.5 million tentative settlement with Wolverine Worldwide will get city water to most PFAS-tainted homes in Kent County, but not all of them.

Vickie Catania and her family live where 12 Mile Road and Summit Avenue meet, with well water that’s tested just below the unsafe threshold for the likely carcinogen.

She won’t drink her well water, not even with the under-the-sink filter provided by Wolverine. Instead, she relies on bottled water paid for by the shoemaker.

She wonders why she and her neighbors up and down Summit aren’t getting city water.

“It should come all the way down here. I mean it should take it all in, take us in as far as I’m concerned,” Catania said.

Without city water, she said, she’ll never be able to sell the home she built 40 years ago.

“I can’t imagine my property being as valuable as it was at one time,” Cantania said.

Target 8 overlaid two maps to show which areas with contaminated wells won’t get city water under the proposed deal. The map provided under the agreement shows areas highlighted in blue that will get city water. A state map shows the yellow, orange and red dots depicting wells with PFAS. They don’t quite match.

A map provided under the agreement. showing the areas that will receive city water. (Dec. 11, 2019)
A state map showing areas impacted by PFAS. (Dec. 11, 2019)

Township officials told Target 8 that some contaminated homes won’t get municipal water because they’re too remote. Instead, they’ll have to rely on the water and filters provided by Wolverine.

They hope to start work on extending water mains next spring, starting with the two hardest-hit areas: Around the House Street dump in Belmont, and in the Wellington Ridge neighborhood north of 10 Mile in Algoma Township.

Township officials said those neighborhoods could have city water by this time next year.

It can’t come soon enough for the Hula family, who live next to the House Street dump where Wolverine dumped PFAS-laden waste decades ago.

“We’re very much in need of municipal water,” Terry Hula said. “We’ve talked about that before, being our only answer, so the fact that it may come next year is good news for us. That’s good news.”

Their PFAS-tainted well failed a year ago, forcing them to rely on a 1,500-gallon tank and refills paid for by Wolverine.

“You have no idea how ready I am to turn on the faucet and not worry every time I turn it on how much water we’re using, or whether I have to leave notes for my family that say, ‘Don’t take showers today.’ There’s not enough water,” Hula said.

Township officials say work could start next spring tapping into a nearby water tank, with mains going down House Street, across US-131 and into another contaminated neighborhood.

Neighbors in the highly contaminated Wellington Ridge neighborhood, north of 10 Mile Road, also could get water by the end of next year.

“I think it’s pretty good news. It’s been a long time coming,” said Wellington Ridge neighbor Laura Kapuscinski, who worries about the health of her three young children.

It’s not clear when other areas will get their water, but township officials said it could take five years or more.

In all, the settlement with Wolverine, which dumped PFAS waste at several spots in the Rockford area, will extend water to about 1,000 homes.

“I’ve just always hoped that they would do the right thing and reach out and help us, and help our community,” Hula said.

For the Hulas, it could finally mean they can sell their house and retire.

“That’s a glimmer of hope we didn’t have before,” Hula said.

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