PARCHMENT, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo County authorities are reminding Parchment and Cooper Township residents to ask to see the state-issued ID badges of people who show up at their homes to test their water for PFAS.
On Thursday, officials provided a photo of what Michigan Department of Environmental Quality contractor badges look like. They are blue and read, “PFAS Kalamazoo County area sampling team: DEQ contractor” in all caps white lettering. The badges also have a holographic sticker bearing the state of Michigan seal.
Authorities said that if people claiming to be testing water do not have legitimate DEQ contractor badges, residents should not let them in and should call 911.
There have been previous warnings about people going around and selling bogus PFAS test kits and filters.
Crews are also testing private wells in the city and Cooper Township to see if they have been contaminated. As of Thursday, 71 wells had been tested, though results weren’t yet back for any of those. Anyone who found a DEQ note on their door about well testing should contact the agency at 1.800.662.9278.
The source of the contamination has not yet been confirmed, but officials are focusing in on the old Crown Vantage paper mill and its neighboring dump site, which are near the wells from which the municipal system draws water, as the possible culprit. There are 18 monitor wells at the Crown Vantage site. As of Thursday, the DEQ had taken samples from six of them. Five are inaccessible.
Meanwhile, work is underway to hook up the Parchment system to the Kalamazoo municipal water system, which does not have high PFAS levels. A new water main is being installed along G Avenue in Parchment, which has led to a precautionary boil water advisory for 17 nearby homes through Saturday, and sampling is ongoing to confirm the water will be safe. Property owners will get instructions in the coming days on how to flush their water systems.
Bottled water distribution continues at Parchment High School. It will run from noon to 8 p.m. through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. You’ll have to verify your address at pickup. You can also recycle empty water bottles at the high school.
People with questions about the contamination can call the Parchment Water Hotline at 269.373.5346 to talk to someone from the Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department. Updates are also being provided on the health department’s website daily.
**Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified the old paper mill as Crown Victory. It is actually Crown Vantage. We regret the error, which has been corrected.