Coal, sand to remove PFAS from Plainfield water

Toxic Tap Water

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Some residents in northern Kent County should be drinking water with less PFAS in it soon.

Plainfield Township on Thursday started using new filtration systems that are expected to eventually clear out most, if not all, of the likely carcinogen from its municipal water.

The plant serves some 40,000 people in Plainfield Township and a few neighboring communities.

The township gets it water from 11 wells, each with trace amount of PFAS from an unknown source, Water Plant Superintendent Don Petrovich said.

The most recent tests found 6.5 parts per trillion of PFAS in the water being sent out to customers, far below the 70 ppt limit for drinking water. Still, residents have complained about having any amount in their water.

That led to a $750,000 state grant to pay for a pilot project to install new filtration systems at the township’s existing water treatment plant, which is being closely watched by the Department of Environmental Quality.

“I think we’re cutting edge,” Petrovich said. “We’re way ahead of the program.”

On Thursday, the township started up two of the new massive filters. Between the two, they filter four million gallons of water a day, roughly half the amount used on summer days.

Each filter is made up of a one-foot layer of sand topped by four feet of bituminous coal. Partially treated water is drawn down through it to capture PFAS and other contaminants.

It’s like a big fish tank, Petrovich said, “without the fish.”

Township officials will take a sample of the water Friday and drive it to a lab in South Bend, Indiana, to test it for PFAS. They expect results in five days.

“Our goal is zero,” Petrovich said. “We’d love to have zero any day of the week.”

He said the township will post test results on its website. Depending on test results, the township plans to install three more carbon filters later this summer.

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