PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A family living next to the Wolverine Worldwide dump blamed for contaminating Belmont wells with the likely carcinogen PFAS is now without water.
Their home on House Street NE hasn’t had running water for 19 days after their well failed. The contamination concerns are preventing a new one from being drilled.
It’s the first of what is expected to be many wells to fail, and there is no permanent alternative lined up.
“You haven’t been humbled until you take your towel and a clean set of clothes and knock on someone’s door for a shower,” homeowner Terry Hula said. “It’s just… It’s really hard.”
Hula, a retired teacher, has been breaking down and crying a lot lately. Without running water, her new normal is hauling buckets to the bathrooms and kitchen.
“There is no water for flushing toilets or showering or washing,” she explained.
She boils water for a warm shower at night. There are camping containers of water at every sink.
“This is also our hair washing station,” she showed Target 8, pointing to the kitchen sink.
When Hula turned on her sink last month, nothing came out. That’s how she learned her well had a leak. Their family would need to drill a new one.
But the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Kent County Health Department says they can’t. The director of environmental health for the county, Sara Simmonds, says drilling could spread or change the direction of the contamination.
Hula’s insurance doesn’t cover contamination, and she was concerned about her home being condemned.
But after Target 8 got involved, officials came up with a plan to build a heated shed to hold hauled water and then connect it to the house. When that will happen is still to be determined.
Hula’s main concern is being able to keep the family tradition of hosting Thanksgiving.
“That has bothered me a lot. I want my family here,” she said.
When Target 8 asked officials if that will be possible, Simmonds said, “That is our goal.”
The DEQ will cover the cost of the shed.
The Hulas had hoped that Wolverine Worldwide would step in and put them up in a hotel. On Thursday, Wolverine sent 24 Hour News 8 a statement saying it “immediately began working to identify a hauled water vendor when it became aware of this situation”.. and that it “has offered to contribute to the solution.”
The water shed is only a temporary solution. The permanent solution would be connecting the Hula house to a municipal water system, but there’s no timeline for when — or even if — that could happen.