Neighbors outside buffer zone concerned over possible tainted water

ROCKFORD, Mich-- Concerns over what may be in the water continue to filter in through Northern Kent County from people living near the buffer zone being tested for potential cancer-causing contaminants.

The risk of those contaminants is connected to dumpsites left from shoemaker Wolverine Worldwide over the years.

Water testing is currently underway at hundreds of homes in the Belmont and Rockford areas. Last month, the area on House Street was expanded to include about 300 more homes bordered by Samrick Road to the west, Rogue River Road to the south and the Rogue River to the east.   Residential wells were being tested for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS or PFCs.

Residents like Tara Decker, who lives just outside the buffer zone on Myers Lake Road, are concerned about their water as well, and are now switching to bottles.

"I'm not going to drink the water until I get it tested and I can't afford to get it tested," said Decker.  "If we're way out here on Myers Lake Road and the areas over there are where the contaminated areas are, what are they going to do for the people this far away from Rockford who have possible contaminations too?"

Decker's neighbor, who didn't want to be identified, tells FOX 17 her water levels came back on Friday, showing 12 parts-per-trillion for contaminants. The Environmental Protection Agency has health advisory levels set at 70 parts-per-trillion.

Decker and her neighbor say, the number is close enough for them to be concerned.

"Basically the alert from my neighbor is there's a chance this can cause cancer," said Decker.

FOX 17 spoke to the owner of Gordon Water Systems on Wednesday, who says their company has been testing a broad area outside the buffer zone and has gotten a variety of results.  In one case, they did get a result of 400-parts-per-trillion, but would not specify where that was.

Gordon Water Systems has forwarded  all of its findings to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

On Wednesday the agency issued the following statement to FOX 17:

We encourage residents who have had independent testing done to share their results with us so that we can consider it alongside the current data we already have - helpful in us making determinations in our investigations. 

The department is investigating sites across the area both inside and outside the study area - as residents share with us intel that we follow up on. 

The company, Wolverine Worldwide has launched a community update blog to inform residents on testing efforts and water filtration matters. Anyone with further concerns can contact the company directly at 616-886-5627.