PARCHMENT, Mich. (WOOD) — Residents who get their water from the city of Parchment know they have a problem, but they may not be alone.

Those who live outside the city limits and get their water from wells could also be affected.
“Could” is the key word; right now, officials simply don’t know how far the plume of PFAS has spread. 

Residents like Mary Stafford, who lives just outside the city, aren’t taking any chances. 

“My mom drinks a lot of water. I’m her caretaker,” said Stafford. “As long as I have the (bottled) water available for us, I’ll be sticking with that.”

State health officials say right now, they can’t answer questions on whether PFAS has contaminated private wells in the area.

“We’re trying to understand which wells are present in a one-mile radius of the municipal wells,” explained the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Mark DuCharme.

Once that happens, they’ll try to figure out which wells should be tested.  

“At this point in time, we’re not saying were going to sample all of those wells. What we’re trying to do is to develop a well-crafted, well thought out expedited, swift action (plan) to be able to go out and sample the wells (where) we believe there may be some concern,” he explained.

Trident Labs in Holland was the first lab in the state to test water for PFAS. Lyle Rawlings says they already took plenty of calls Friday from people in Parchment, anxious for answers.

“We’re there to help. We will test their water if they want it. We know the DEQ is testing some, but it’s going to take some time,” Rawlings said.

However, officials are not recommending residents have the PFAS test done on their own. 

“Only because we want to make sure you’re getting the test results that are going to be qualified,” said Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller. “A private test may show a false positive.”

And that could add more panic to situation.

Rawlings says he knows the DEQ will be methodical with testing, but residents will need to be patient and rely on bottled water in the meantime.

“I live in Rockford, and I know that’s how they did it in Rockford. They follow the plume. So they could get to the outer areas eventually, but it could take months,” he explained.

Stafford is ready for the wait.

“I’m patient,” she said. “I won’t worry about it. They’re getting on top of it.”