Parchment residents have been advised to immediately stop using tap water following the discovery of extremely high PFAS levels in the public water system.
Residents were alerted to the contamination late Thursday, July 26, after the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) informed city officials that testing revealed PFAS levels of 1410 parts-per-trillion (PPT). The advisory applies to residents of Parchment and Cooper Township that use the Parchment public water system. Officials estimate that up to 3,000 residents are affected by the contamination.
Residents are being provided with bottled water starting Friday, July 27th at the Parchment High School, located at 1916 E. G Ave. between the hours of 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Residents are advised to avoid using tap water for drinking, cooking, or any other process with the intent of ingestion. On Sunday, July 29th, the governor’s office announced it was declaring a state of emergency.
While the cause of the PFAS contamination has not been confirmed at this time, it is being reported that the now-closed paper mill is being investigated as a potential source. City officials have begun implementing a short-term plan of action. The Parchment water supply system is being drained, and residents will be connected to the City of Kalamazoo’s water supply system. Once residents have been connected, the City of Kalamazoo will begin the process of flushing Parchment’s water system.
"Our first priority is the health of residents in the Parchment and Cooper Township area and to ensure they have access to safe drinking water, a plan for which is already being executed by local agencies with state assistance," Governor Rick Snyder said in a prepared statement late Thursday evening.
Cleanup efforts are currently underway to flush out the Parchment water system, however MLive is reporting that some PFAS-laden water is entering the Kalamazoo River.
Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFOA and PFOS, collectively known as PFAS) are a toxic chemical once used in the leather waterproofing agent Scotchgard. PFAS were banned from use in the early 2000s, due to the health risks it presents to humans and animals. PFAS exposure has been linked to numerous complications, such as higher rates of kidney and testicular cancer, immune system suppression, fibromyalgia, and thyroid problems.
For more information, residents may call either of Parchment’s drinking water hotlines at 269-567-7595 or 269-567-2517.