DEQ statement regarding water contamination in Michigan


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MICHIGAN — In May, Local 3 brought you a special report on ‘PFAS contamination’ in the Upper Peninsula. Just last night, we told you of the growing contamination in the Great Lakes and across the state of Michigan. You can find links to those previous stories below.

PFAS chemicals are incredibly durable and able to move quickly through the environment. They have also been linked to serious health effects. All of which, we now know, the Michigan DEQ found out six years ago when an employee presented a 93-page report on the growing concern and risks of these chemicals and continued contamination.

Local 3 reached out to the DEQ for a statement regarding their efforts following this employee report.

The DEQ says that virtually all of the employee’s recommendations have been acted on by the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART), created by Governor Snyder just eight months ago.

They continue by saying, “Michigan has moved faster than any state in addressing PFAS contamination. We moved quickly to protect people from potentially unsafe drinking water in communities with known PFAS contamination from historic industrial or military activities. MPART is taking this next proactive step to survey other parts of the state and gather important baseline data on the presence of this emerging contaminant in the environment.”

They also say that MPART is helping to coordinate the state’s $23 million effort to locate and remedy PFAS contamination in Michigan. They also assure Local 3 that the state is prepared to assist local officials in enforcement against further pollution.

Local 3 has received the full list of recommendations presented to the DEQ by their employee in 2012 as well as updated recommendations in 2017. The list of recommendations moving forward, from 2017, are below.

——- 2017 Recommendations ——-

1. Recommendation: Recognize that PFAS have emerged as ubiquitous human, wildlife, and environmental contaminants and take all necessary measures to assure adequate protection of Michigan residents and environmental resources from their adverse effects.

Response: The DEQ has continually worked to assure that public health and the environment are protected as PFAS contamination is discovered. Safe drinking water is our first concern, and where investigation and data indicate a concern the State has been proactive, including working with other entities, such as the military, industry, and local health department, to institute immediate and appropriate response actions.

2. Recommendation: Work towards the goal of identifying all sources of PFAS contributing to environmental contamination in Michigan.

Response: The PFAS Multiagency Technical Workgroup is compiled a list of industries where PFAS may have been used and is determining where in our state those industries are or were located. Based on that list, which will be continuously updated, investigations are prioritized.

3. Recommendation: Continue to support all ongoing investigations of sites with known environmental PFAS contamination in Michigan.

Response: The DEQ is spending significant resources to support ongoing investigations of PFAS contamination, including a review of sites with other known contamination for potential PFAS to determine if more sampling is warranted. The FY 18 supplemental provides $11.8 million GF/GP to address PFAS contamination that will be expended as follows: $7.8 million for response activities at 14 confirmed PFAS locations; and $4.0 million for additional remediation and response activities. In addition, the funding will be used for investigation, water supply testing, surface water testing, lab analysis, contractual services and coordination efforts.

4. Recommendation: Initiate investigations into the source(s) of PFAS drinking water contamination in Michigan as identified from the third federal Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR3) or any other drinking water quality monitoring programs.

Response: None of the results in Michigan were above the EPA Lifetime Health Advisory. In one case, a Superfund site was suspected to be the source of the contamination in the water supply and follow up monitoring and investigation is being conducted by the liable party and the DEQ. The affected wells were taken out of the water supply system. The FY 2018 Supplemental provided $23.2 million funding for PFAS, including 7.0 FTE positions and $1.6 million GF/GP to address environmental contamination of PFAS in community water supply and sampling. With that funding, a comprehensive state-wide testing program for all community drinking water supplies, including schools with well systems, is on-going and expected to be completed by the end of 2018. In addition, specific sites of concern are being tested, with response plans developed as warranted by the results.

5. Recommendation: Continue to support the establishment of PFAS-based fish consumption advisories as well as identifying the underlying PFAS source(s) responsible for these advisories.

Response: WRD continues to provide information and data analysis to DHHS in support of its efforts to establish PFOS-based fish consumption advisories. Results of previous and ongoing monitoring being conducted by various DEQ divisions, federal and local governments, and businesses are used to help identify sources of PFAS responsible for the advisories.

6. Recommendation: Support the development of in-house MDEQ laboratory testing capabilities for PFAS in water and soil samples in order to improve access to and reduce costs associated with PFAS environmental media testing in Michigan.

Response: The FY 18 supplemental included $1.5M for laboratory equipment and support related to PFAS remediation. Under an MOU, DHHS is accepting samples for analysis pending the DEQ’s laboratory developing its own capabilities to undertake the testing.

7. Recommendation: Initiate training of field staff on PFAS investigations in Michigan, including identification of known industrial sources of environmental contamination, appropriate environmental investigation practices for suspected PFAS contamination, and remedial best practices.

Response: The DEQ has developed Standard Operating Procedures to assure that staff are consistently and correctly collecting PFAS samples and retained consultants to discuss proper sampling methodologies. Managers provide detailed information to staff with respect to policies and guidance on addressing PFAS in the environment. Staff participates in seminars and conferences regarding PFAS. A PFAS Multiagency Workgroup has been established with the goal of identifying issues and resolutions regarding the way the DEQ addresses PFAS sites and disseminating that information to staff as quickly as possible.

8. Recommendation: Complete the promulgation of the draft Part 201 environmental remediation administrative rules inclusive of PFAS cleanup criteria.

Response: A provision in the existing Part 201 Administrative Rules (299.06) was used to establish criteria of 70 ppt for PFOA/PFOS, singly or in combination, in groundwater. The criteria were developed to be protective of drinking water. Other environmental media do not have criteria established under Part 201, but Water Quality Standards are enforceable and have been established for PFOA and PFOS. While there are no soil criteria presently, water is expected to be the primary exposure pathway of concern for PFAS.


Original DEQ water contamination story, could something have been done sooner?

Water contamination at former K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base

Health effects and fishing/hunting risks from PFAS contamination

PFAS contamination in the U.P., where are the risks?

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