By Sen. Peter MacGregor, 28th Senate District
Since issues regarding groundwater emerged in Belmont and around the state, the Legislature has taken several precautionary measures and worked with health professionals and scientists to determine the best action that can be taken.
Last week the Legislature approved funding aimed at addressing the recent growth of groundwater issues caused by perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). House Bill 4320, a supplemental to the 2017-2018 budget, includes an additional $23.2 million to ensure state departments working and gathering data have adequate resources to continue searching for a solution and keeping residents of affected communities up-to-date on necessary precautions.
The departments of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Environmental Quality (DEQ) have been working diligently to assess the size and scope of the water quality issues at sites around the state. This funding will allow these departments to continue analyzing drinking and surface waters for PFAS.
A bulk of the funding will go toward response and mitigation efforts, laboratory and testing equipment, water sampling and other measures. The main challenge faced by state agencies thus far has been testing.
Testing for these compounds is in the early phases and is relatively new science. Michigan does not currently have the capacity to perform drinking water testing at the levels recommended by the DEQ. In fact there are only 12 labs across the country certified to perform such tests, which makes getting test results and other materials as we search for a solution even more difficult.
A portion of this new funding will go to expand state labs to provide comprehensive PFAS testing, allowing agents from DHHS and DEQ to better protect the public and identify potential problems.
This supplemental is just the first step in getting our hands around this issue. When more data is available we can come back and re-evaluate whether additional resources are needed. My colleagues and I have worked very carefully with involved parties for several months to secure this funding. HB 4320 will now go to Gov. Rick Snyder for final approval.
For up-to-date information on this issue visit the Kent County Health Department’s website at www.accesskent.com/health, or call my office toll-free at 855-347-8028
Sen. MacGregor represents the 28th state Senate District, which includes: Algoma, Alpine, Byron, Cannon, Courtland, Grattan, Nelson, Oakfield, Plainfield, Solon, Sparta, Spencer, Tyrone and Vergennes townships and the cities of Cedar Springs, Grandville, Rockford, Walker and Wyoming.