Plainfield Township alerts residents of water concer

by Leon Hendrix, originally posted on January 31, 2017


PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Thousands of residents and businesses received a notice from Plainfield Township warning about a drinking water contaminant, but most of the recipients can ignore it.

The letter is a result of elevated levels of total trihalomethanes, or TTHM. TTHM is a byproduct formed when chlorine, used to clean water, and organic material, like plant matter, combine. Long-term consumption of TTHM over the course of years can cause kidney malfunction, liver problems and cancer.

The State of Michigan allows TTHM in drinking water at a rate of up to 80 parts per billion. Levels slightly above that threshold were detected in the water that was distributed to a small portion of Plainfield and Algoma township residents. October tests showed a level of 85 parts per billion in water distributed near the township line from the tower off of 10 Mile Road near US-131. Township officials say the tower provides water to a few hundred homes and some businesses east of US-131 near 10 Mile.

Officials linked the problem to a separate contamination issue that came to light last summer. At that time, the township stopped using a ground water source because of contaminants in the soil. The water source used to make up for the one officials shut down contained more organic material — a component in creating TTHM.

This impacted the tower at 10 Mile Road because of the tower’s slow depletion rate. As water ages, TTHM rises.

It made for a relatively simple fix. The township flushed the system and lowered the level of water stored in the tank so it doesn’t sit as long.

January tests proved that the fix worked. The TTHM level was down to 69 parts per billion.

Because the October spike made the average over the past year higher than the state’s threshold, the township was required to notify residents. Despite the fact that the vast majority of township was not impacted by the elevated TTHM, the state still required everyone be notified.

“We need our residents to understand that we monitor their drinking water on a daily basis… This is the water that we drink as well,” Township Superintendent Cameron Van Wyngarden told 24 Hour News 8 on Tuesday. “The water is safe to drink.”

The township’s notice recommended that residents with extremely compromised immune systems, pregnant women and infants notify their doctors about the township’s findings. They said others don’t need to take action as the matter has been addressed.

Van Wyngarden said the township decided not to notify township residents immediately because the contaminant posed no imminent threat.

The township is monitoring the TTHM levels regularly and will notify residents if levels return above the threshold.

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