Parchment residents grateful for bottled water distribution but questions still linger

PARCHMENT, Mich. — Charlotte Tinkey drove up to Parchment High School Monday morning to get two free cases of bottled water for her family. It was her third time doing so in as many days.

“When I found out they were doing this I thought it was so amazing that Parchment came together as a community,” Tinkey said during an interview after volunteers put cases in her trunk.

Last Thursday night, the city announced that the municipal water was unsafe to drink. Elevated levels of PFAs, or polyfluoroalkyl contaminants, were discovered in the water system. Sunday, Lt. Governor Brian Calley declared a State of Emergency so that the state can pitch in with the relief effort. The city has since been providing Parchment and Cooper Township residents with bottled water daily.

“Everyone’s coming together and helping each other out,” said 17-year-old Lucas Rock who drove in with his mother Lauren. “It’s really quite amazing how people can just gather in a time of need.”

Rock and his mom said the water issues didn't affect their daily routine. They’ve been drinking bottled water for years. Other said they’re making adjustments.

“It’s kind of an inconvenience,” said Robert Olendorf. “You worry about when you’re taking a shower your skin absorbs it or something like that.”

Tinkey had the same question. She wonders if the water is good to use for dishwashing, doing laundry and to give to her dog. Tinkey reiterates to her boys, she said, not to get it in their mouths whenever they’re washing their faces.

“It’s really scary,” she said. “It’s makes me wonder how long it’s been contaminated for before they found out because my boys are always drinking water and I am all the time.”

City and state officials are hosting a Town Hall on Tuesday at 5pm at the Haven Reformed Church in Kalamazoo for anyone who may have questions. They said they plan to distribute water for as long as needed, opening daily at Parchment High School from 12 p.m. - 8 p.m.

“People are out here helping and these [cases] are heavy to lift,” Tinkey said. “They’re out here with their time doing that and I thought ‘how amazing'.”

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