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Haring Township board votes to proceed with $2.3M water system expansion

Jun 03, 2023

CADILLAC — The Haring Township board has voted to move forward with a plan to dig a new well and install new mains to service areas of the township where PFAS chemicals have been detected in the groundwater.

In a resolution passed in July following a public hearing, the board unanimously approved the project plan drafted by Gosling Czubak Engineering Sciences and also authorized township supervisor Bob Scarbrough to apply for a $2,346,000 loan through Michigan’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to finance the project.

The plan drafted by Gosling Czubak listed several options for addressing the contamination, including treating the water from the existing wells. Ultimately, the board approved “Alternative 2,” which is building a new well site adjacent to the township’s wastewater treatment plant, east of U.S. 131 on Boon Road. In addition, the project includes a water main extension involving 5,000 feet of 8-inch and 12-inch pipes along 36 Road, Meyer Road, Bob Road and John R. Road. The water main extension will provide non-contaminated water to up to 33 residential customers in those areas, along with the Cadillac Intermediate School District.

As part of the water main extension project, new customers’ existing wells will be abandoned and service piping to the property owners’ building connections will be provided.

According to summary of project need, wells throughout Haring Township have tested positive for PFAS, which is classified by the Environmental Protection Agency as an “emerging contaminant” found to cause cancer and affect the liver, immune system, cholesterol levels and thyroid.

Each of township’s two existing “Type 1” wells off Hanthorn Street and Works Avenue have detectable levels of multiple PFAS chemicals, including PFOS, PFOA and PFHxS, although they are below the maximum contaminant level.

Wells tested at the Wexford-Missaukee Career Technical Center, however, showed PFNA levels above the maximum contaminant level over the course of four quarterly samples, resulting in the school receiving a violation. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy has reported that wells for properties on the south side of 36 Road between John R and Crosby Road also have tested positive for PFAS.

Three potential new well sites were identified, including the one next the wastewater treatment plant, one north of the FedEx Ground facility and the other east of the CTC. Gosling Czubak recommended the township go with the site next to the wastewater treatment plant, which has a low risk for contamination, and is located adjacent to a 12-inch water main that loops into the existing system. The two other sites are located off of dead end water mains at the farthest extents of the system.

Once the new well is installed, the existing wells will be kept and maintained to be used for fire protection. In the long term, as additional wells are developed, wells testing for PFAS will be abandoned.

The cost breakdown of the project is $1,441,476 to build the new well and $903,747 for water system extensions. This is the least costly of the available options, with the most expensive being to treat existing wells, which would cost around $5 million.

The cost of the project to the township’s customers is based on financing the project completely through a low-interest loan from the state. Repayment of the loan over a 20-year period at 1.875% interest results in an annual payment of $143,240.24. This will require the township to increase rates to its current and new customers by 34%. A typical residential bill would increase from $34.06 to $45.60 a month.

The proposed design and construction schedule will be carried out during 2024 and 2025. The schedule for the new well includes test well drilling and water quality sampling to confirm the proposed site is free of PFAS. If the well is found to be free of PFAS, additional test well drilling will be completed to test the hydraulic capacity of the well and confirm the well site is suitable based on its location relative to the wastewater treatment plant.

Following confirmation that the well site can be developed, the property will be purchased from the ISD. At that time, associated equipment, buildings and piping then will be designed, bid and constructed, with the new well coming online by the fall of 2025.

Keep reading the Cadillac News for further coverage on the project as it moves forward.

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