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Plainfield Township: Water line extensions will cost tens of millions

Posted: 4:56 PM, Mar 20, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-20 16:56:46-04

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Plainfield Township's plan to extend municipal water lines to dozens of homes could costs tens of millions of dollars, according to township superintendent Cameron Van Wyngarden.

However, the township has no plans to pay for it and says the problem was caused by Wolverine Worldwide's old tannery site.

Van Wyngarden said the projected costs to extend water lines to homes only on well water range from $25 million to $62 million. The final figure depends on which homes get connected.

He said if the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality sets a threshold of 70 parts per trillion of detected PFAS, then that would be on the low end.

However, if a lower standard is put in place, then the cost will rise. The township also feels the areas with undetectable levels of PFAS at the moment may have contamination issues in the future, so they want to connect all homes.

The problem is coming up with the money. Since the township and its residents didn't cause the contamination, Plainfield Township is in a legal battle to make Wolverine Worldwide to pay for the new lines.

Van Wyngarden said it's extremely frustrating.

"We talk with residents all the time that not only are concerned about the quality of the water, now we have residents whose wells have failed and they don't even have a supply of water onsite," he explained.

"They have to have water brought in by truck at least once a week so that they have water not just to drink but also to bathe, to cook, to do their laundry," Van Wyngarden added.

He said if the township had the money from Wolverine Worldwide, the project could start in the spring and be done in its entirety within two to three years. However, he doesn't know how long the litigation will take or what may come of it.