Allegan County Town Receives Millions For Water Modernization As PFAS Work Continues
HOLLAND – The United States Department of Agriculture on Thursday announced a $ 2.6 million loan to the town of Otsego in Allegan County for water treatment work, as part of an investment $ 27.4 million in Michigan’s water infrastructure under the Federal Water and Waste Disposal Loans and Grants Program.
Otsego will use the funds to expand its water supply system to around 120 additional households as state health teams continue to monitor and examine potential PFAS pollution in the region. The loans are supposed to be long term and at low interest rates for rural areas and towns of 10,000 inhabitants or less.
According to the USDA, the work will be carried out in conjunction with the sewer extension project and will construct 11,000 feet of water main with standpipes, valves, service bypasses and restoration. An additional loan of $ 3.8 million will be used to build 1.7 thousand gravity sewers with manholes, service bypasses and restoration.
In total, the federal government is sending more than $ 27 million to rural Michigan communities for water infrastructure upgrades.
“When we invest in rural infrastructure, we create opportunity and prosperity for people in rural communities. These investments support the local economy by making rural communities attractive, economically viable and secure places to live and work, thereby helping to create and safeguard jobs by attracting and retaining employers and workers, ”said the Minister. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement.
Since July 2018, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services researchers collected water and soil samples to accurately detect the level of PFAS contamination at Otsego. State officials believe the landfills, as well as the site of the former Rock-Tenn paper mill in Otsego, could be sources of PFAS contamination.
PFAS (per- and polyfluoroaklyl substances) are contaminants that can cause health problems such as thyroid disease, kidney and testicular cancer, as well as higher cholesterol levels. The United States Environmental Protection Agency says the chemicals can be found in products used to break down grease, oil, and other similar substances. PFAS are difficult to break down and are sometimes referred to as “eternal chemicals”.
Places where contamination is possible include old industrial sites, fire stations and military bases.
PFAS contaminant cleanup advocates recently announced political priorities they want state officials to spend some of Michigan’s $ 11 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds. An estimated 11,000 sites in Michigan are contaminated with PFAS, according to the state.
The Great Lakes PFAS Action Network calls on leaders to take action to further prevent PFAS contamination in communities, including preventing initial PFAS contamination, improving access to potential exposure testing, support for communities affected by PFAS and transparency whenever PFAS exposure is dedicated.
“PFAS impacts people, communities, waterways and wildlife across our state. It is a growing crisis that requires forward-thinking action, and there are concrete steps that state policymakers can take now to address it. Great Lakes PFAS Action Network co-chair Tony Spaniola said at a press conference Tuesday in Lansing.