Huron River

The Huron River drains portions of seven counties in southeast Michigan. The Huron River Watershed is more than 900 square miles and consists of hundreds of tributary creeks, lakes, and the Huron River proper. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) began sampling intensively on the Huron River due to the city of Ann Arbor detecting per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the Huron River, which is the main source of the city of Ann Arbor’s drinking water, and the discovery of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) in the river at levels over the Rule 57 water quality standard of 11 ppt PFOS. The following is a timeline of PFAS investigation activities in the Huron River Watershed.

Huron River Watershed Map

City of Ann Arbor: 2014 - 2018

The city of Ann Arbor supplies water to city of Ann Arbor residents, as well as residents in Ann Arbor Township and Scio Township.  The total population served is 127,855.  The city of Ann Arbor gets 85 percent of its water from the Huron River via two water intakes in Barton Pond and 15 percent from multiple groundwater wells.  Below is a timeline of PFAS-related activities:

  • March 5, 2014 – The city of Ann Arbor sampled for PFAS compounds in drinking water, as required by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) under Round 3 of the Unregulated Containment Monitoring Rule (UCMR3). PFOS was detected in the drinking water sample (main reservoir – treated water) at 43 parts per trillion (ppt). Review the city of Ann Arbor’s 2014 Water Quality Report.
    • March and July 2016 – The city of Ann Arbor conducted water sampling for PFAS; they tested raw water sources as well as finished water.  All but one of these upstream locations had detectable levels of PFAS and no obvious source was able to be pinpointed.  The sample locations were:
    • Main water reservoir (treated water) and the raw river intake (untreated water).
    • Two raw water production wells (untreated groundwater).
  • Surface water within the Huron River, Barton Pond, and Honey Creek (upstream of the intake; untreated surface water). See map of surface water results below.
  • October 2016 - The city of Ann Arbor began collecting monthly PFAS samples from the raw river source and finished water.  The results are provided to the MDEQ monthly. To date, all the results obtained are below the USEPA Lifetime Health Advisory of 70 ppt, either singularly or combined. 

City of Ann Arbor Surface Water Samples PFOS Results (ng/L)

  • In late 2017 the city of Ann Arbor began conducting a Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) filter study.
    • The sand in 2 of the city of Ann Arbor’s 26 active filters was replaced with a full bed depth of GAC. 
    • The remaining 24 filters presently operate with GAC underlain by 6 inches of sand.
    • Two of the remaining 24 filters had the 6-inch sand portion completely replaced with GAC in late 2017 to evaluate whether the increased depth of GAC will improve the filter’s ability to remove contaminants.
    • The study is ongoing, and no results have been reported to the MDEQ to date.
  • Mid-July 2018 – The city of Ann Arbor’s municipal water supply was tested as part of the MDEQ’s statewide initiative to test all public water supplies and schools with their own wells. Both the finished water and the intake for the supply were sampled. The results were available mid-August and finished water results were 4 ppt PFOS+PFOA; intake results were 11 ppt PFOS + PFOA. Additional results are available on the public water supply statewide sampling initiative page.
  • The city of Ann Arbor’s August 6, 2018, raw river sample was 9.2 ppt PFOS + PFOA, and main reservoir sampling result was 6.3 ppt PFOS + PFOA.

Huron River: 2018

May

  • May 8 – Due to the elevated levels of PFOS detected by the city of Ann Arbor in the Huron River, the MDEQ collected fish from Baseline and Portage Lakes for PFAS analysis. The MDEQ also sent stored Kent Lake fish samples (that had been collected in 2017 by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) as part of routine fish contaminant monitoring) to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) lab for PFAS analysis.
  • May 8 – The MDEQ collected groundwater samples from four monitoring wells at the former Daimler Chrysler Scio Facility located at 2880 Zeeb Road, Dexter, Michigan. Historical operations at the facility were primarily automobile parts manufacturing, and at one time, the facility housed a small plating line and treated plating wastes, which may have contained PFAS. This facility is located on the Huron River upstream of the city of Ann Arbor’s intake. Preliminary results: PFAS was detected in all samples. No samples exceeded the MDEQ’s cleanup criteria for groundwater used as drinking water of 70 ppt for PFOS and PFOA, individually or combined.  

June

  • June 4 – The MDEQ’s statewide initiative to test all community water supplies and schools with their own wells began in Oakland County, including areas within the Huron River Watershed. Sample results are available on the public water supply statewide sampling initiative page.
  • Of the results received, five supplies within the Huron River Watershed returned values above non-detect (ND).
    • Glengary Elementary – Total tested PFAS was 77 ppt and PFOA + PFOS was 20 ppt.
    • Heritage Apartments – Total tested PFAS was 36 ppt and PFOA + PFOS was ND.
    • In the remaining three of these cases, results were <10 ppt for total tested PFAS and ND for PFOA + PFOS.
  • June 27 – The Wixom Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) conducted sampling as part of the Industrial Pretreatment Program (IPP) PFAS Initiative.  The city of Wixom WWTP discharges to Norton Creek, which is a tributary to the Huron River five miles upstream of Kent Lake and east of the village of Milford.  Results indicated effluent concentration of 290 ppt PFOS.  The Wixom WWTP began an investigation into the potential source of contamination in their waste stream, and results are summarized below.
    • May 15 – The city of Wixom identified a chrome plating facility, Tribar Manufacturing LLC (Tribar), Plant 4, which has been in operation since approximately 2000, as the source of high levels of PFOS (28,000 ppt) to the city of Wixom’s sanitary sewer system.
    • The city of Wixom also tested Tribar, Plant 5, which began production in 2017 and also does chrome plating. The wastewater discharge from Plant 5 was less than 20 ppt PFOS to the city of Wixom’s sanitary sewer system and determined to not be a significant source.
    • A third potential source was sampled and determined to have 2.2 ppt of PFOS in their discharge.  The city of Wixom has not identified any other industrial users as contributing significant levels of PFAS to their system.

July

  • July 16 – The MDEQ’s statewide initiative to test all community water supplies and schools with their own wells began in Washtenaw County, including areas within the Huron River Watershed. Sample results are available on the public water supply statewide sampling initiative page. Of the results received and in addition to the city of Ann Arbor municipal supply (mentioned above), Emerson School – Elementary returned a value of 14 ppt for total tested PFAS (PFOA + PFOS was ND).
  • July 17 – The MDEQ and MDHHS provided an overview via a webinar to local units of governments in the Huron River Watershed regarding PFAS and planned fish and surface water sampling. 
  • July 18 – The MDEQ’s statewide initiative to test all community water supplies and schools with their own wells began in Livingston County, including areas within the Huron River Watershed. Sample results are available on the public water supply statewide sampling initiative page. Of the results received, five supplies within the Huron River Watershed returned values above ND. In all five of these cases, these results were <10 ppt for total tested PFAS, and in only one case (results not yet public) did a supply return a non-detect value for PFOA + PFOS.
  • July 24 – To determine the extent of elevated levels of PFOS in the Huron River, the MDEQ sampled 17 locations along the Huron River main stem and from select tributaries near where they meet with the Huron River including: Norton Creek, Mill Creek, Honey Creek, and Willow Run Creek.

Huron River Surface Water Results July 24, 2018

August

UCL is the upper confident limit, which
means we are 95% sure that the actual
average PFOS concentration  is no
higher than - in the case of the Kent
Lake Black Cappie - 1,209 ppb PFOS.
  • August 3 – The MDEQ received the results from the Kent Lake fish samples sent to the MDHHS lab on May 8, 2018. PFOS levels in the fish were elevated. Black crappie (UCL 1,029 parts per billion [ppb] PFOS) and largemouth bass (UCL 1,481 ppb PFOS). See UCL explanation at right..
  • August 4 - The MDHHS issued a “Do Not Eat” fish advisory to cover the Huron River in Livingston, Oakland,a nd Washtenaw Counties. Tis covered:
    • Hubbell Pond (Mill Pond) and Kent Lake in Oakland County.
    • Ore Lake, Strawberry Lake, Zukey Lake, Gallagher Lake, Loon Lake,a dn Whitewood Lake in Livingston County.
    • Baseline and Portage Lakes near the Livingston/Washtenaw County line.
  • August 6 – The MDEQ sent a compliance letter to the Wixom WWTP Operator in Charge requiring the WWTP to work to reduce PFOS discharged to Norton Creek and from accumulating in biosolids.The letter also required the WWTP to sample for PFAS monthly, to monitor at confirmed sources sufficient to characterize their contribution to the waste stream coming into the WWTP, and to sample its biosolids.
  • August 9 – MDEQ staff visited the Wixom Fire Training Center as a potential source of PFAS to the Huron River Watershed. Wixom Fire Department staff indicated that PFAS containing foams have not been used on the site.
  • August 14 – The MDEQ sampled permitted wastewater discharges in the vicinity of Kent Lake for PFAS.The locations sampled included the Milford WWTP, South Lyon WWTP, GM Proving Grounds, and the Seamless Tube groundwater cleanup site.
  • August 23 – The MDEQ received results from the July 24 sampling of the Huron River and its tributaries.Norton Creek was identified as a significant source of PFOS to the Huron River. A summary and map of sampling results are provided below.
    • Elevated levels of PFOS (5,500 ppt) in Norton Creek.
    • Gradual decrease of PFOS levels as you travel downstream.
    • Elevated levels of PFOS (26 ppt PFOS) in Willow Run Creek, a tributary to the Huron River in Wayne County. MDEQ staff are working to evaluate potential sources of PFAS to Willow Run Creek.
  • August 24 – The MDHHS expanded the original "Do Not Eat" fish advisory to include the Huron River at North Wixom Road and Norton Creek in Oakland County.
  • August 28 – The MDEQ’s Huron River Work Group met to coordinate efforts across MDEQ divisions and the MDEQ’s Executive Office.
  • August 29 – The MDEQ received results for fish samples collected on May 8, 2018, from Baseline Lake (UCL 286 ppb PFOS) and Argo Pond collected in 2015 (UCL 404 ppb PFOS).
    • The 2015 Argo Pond fish were from routine fish contaminant monitoring (samples were not analyzed for PFAS at that time because the MDEQ’s Water Resources Division had no information to indicate a concern with PFAS in this watershed).
  • August 29 – The city of Wixom began monthly follow-up sampling of the city of Wixom’s effluent discharge from the WWTP in accordance with the IPP PFAS Initiative requirements. Samples of biosolids generated at the WWTP were also collected.  The city of Wixom is currently landfilling their biosolids. The city of Wixom is working with Tribar to reduce the level of PFAS being discharged to their sanitary sewer.
  • August 29 - The effluent from the Wixom WWTP was 4800 ppt for PFOS.
  • August 29 and 30 – To identify whether there are other significant sources of PFAS contributing to the elevated PFOS levels in Norton Creek, MDEQ staff collected in-stream surface water samples of the Huron River upstream of Kent Lake and at various locations within Norton Creek and other tributaries.Potential sources were identified, and sampling was conducted to bracket these sources, including:
    • The Ford Wixom Plant, a former automotive manufacturing facility where fire training with aqueous film forming foam was conducted.
    • Kelsey Hayes, a former wheel production facility in Milford.
    • A fire training facility used by the city of Wixom.
    • Storm water discharges from Tribar, Plant 4
    • The discharge from a state-funded groundwater cleanup facility (Coe’s Cleaners).
    • Other areas with significant industrial operations.
    • Sample results were received on September 27.
  • August 30 – The MDEQ received results for channel catfish collected in 2017 from the Flat Rock Impoundment of the Huron River (UCL 11 ppb PFOS).
  • August 31 – The MDHHS extended the “Do Not Eat” Advisory to Lake Erie based on the Baseline Lake and Argo Pond fish results from August 29, 2018.
  • August 31 – The MDEQ met with Republic Services to discuss and finalize a groundwater sampling plan for a closed landfill in Lyon Township, which is near Kent Lake, as well as to develop a schedule for collecting samples.
  • August 31 – The Daimler Chrysler Scio facility in Scio Township was sampled as a follow-up to the initial May 8, 2018 sampling. The facility was sampled at six groundwater monitoring wells. In addition, the on-site employee drinking water well was sampled. These wells were selected to determine if impacted water has a potential to discharge to the Huron River at PFOS concentrations above the Part 201 Generic Cleanup Criteria for groundwater surface water interface of 12 ppt.
  • August 31 – The MDEQ received results from point source monitoring of wastewater discharges in the vicinity of Kent Lake conducted on August 14, 2018.Results are below; no significant sources were identified:
    • Milford WWTP (3 ppt PFOS)
    • South Lyon WWTP (4.4 ppt PFOS)
    • GM Proving Grounds (6.4 ppt PFOS)
    • Seamless Tube cleanup site (<0.4 ppt PFOS)
  • August 31 – As of the end of August, sampling related to MDEQ’s statewide initiative to test all community water supplies and schools with their own wells is >90% complete within the Huron River Watershed. As remaining sampling results become available, they will be shared on the public water supply statewide sampling initiative page.

Details of Huron River and Norton Creek REsults

September

  • September 13 – The MDEQ collected fish from Belleville Lake and the Flat Rock Impoundment.
  • September 18 – The MDHHS issued an avoid swallowing foam on the Huron River.
  • September 19 – The MDEQ received results for largemouth bass samples that were collected May 8, 2018, from Portage Lake.The UCL was 76 ppb, total results ranged from 6.6 to 173 ppb PFOS.
  • September 19 – The city of Wixom issued an administrative compliance order to Tribar.The order confirms that Tribar’s discharge of PFOS caused the Wixom WWTP’s effluent to exceed water quality standards and requires Tribar to submit by October 19, 2018, a work plan describing the strategy the company will implement to reduce PFOS effluent discharges.
  • September 20 – The MDEQ and MDHHS provided an update via a webinar for local units of government, local health departments, and other stakeholders on PFAS findings and activities in the Huron River Watershed.
  • September 25 - 28 – Eight groundwater monitoring wells associated with the Lyon Development Landfill were sampled and analyzed for PFAS.PFOA was ND in all samples.PFOS was ND or detected at very low levels with 1.7 ppt being the highest concentration.
  • September 26 – The MDEQ received a report following the August sampling event at the Daimler Chrysler Scio facility which revealed that PFOS is discharging to the Huron River above the Part 201 groundwater surface water interface criterion.  There were no detections above the Part 201 groundwater for drinking water criterion on-site, including the potable well (PW-5).The MDEQ is in the process of reviewing the report and meeting with the responsible party to determine next steps. 
  • September 27 – The MDEQ received results from the Huron-Clinton Metroparks’ self-initiated sampling of their wells; they were ND.
  • September 27 – The MDEQ received results from several recent surface water and point source samples for PFOS in the Upper Huron River Watershed, including the August 29 and 30 sampling event.Several samples had elevated PFOS levels.
    • The Ford Wixom Plant, a former automotive manufacturing facility where fire training with aqueous film forming foam was conducted.
    • Kelsey Hayes, a former wheel production facility in Milford.
    • A fire training facility used by the city of Wixom.
    • Storm water discharges from Tribar, Plant 4
    • The discharge from a state-funded groundwater cleanup facility (Coe’s Cleaners).
    • Other areas with significant industrial operations.

      Upper Huron River Watershed Surface Water & Point Source PFOS Monitoring

  • Actions taken in response to results received on September 27:
    • The city of Wixom had previously been notified of effluent results by the MDEQ on August 29, 2018.Due to the new sample results, a follow-up discussion was held with the MDEQ, city of Wixom, and Tribar to discuss effluent results, recent surface water sampling results, and status of corrective actions.
      • Tribar Plant 4 Results
        • Well: 6 ppt PFOS
        • Stormwater: 8,000 ppt PFOS.The stormwater from this facility was later determined to discharge to the Rouge River Watershed not the Huron River Watershed.

    • MDEQ staff met on September 28, 2018, to discuss next steps with Coe’s Cleaners, a groundwater cleanup site managed by the MDEQ.The groundwater cleanup discharges to the Mill Pond in the village of Milford and was identified as a source to the Huron River above Kent Lake.The MDEQ tasked contractor, AECOM, to conduct sampling at all three wells at Coe’s Cleaners, as well as the influent and effluent at the air stripper system.
      • Coe’s Cleaners Results
        • Additional sample results were ND for this site and it is no longer being considered as a potential source.

    • The MDEQ met internally on October 1, 2018, to discuss next steps based on the new data with representatives from each of the MDEQ divisions.
  • September 28 – The MDEQ collected surface water and fish samples from Argo Pond, Barton Pond, and Hubbell Pond.

October

  • October 1 – The MDEQ collected surface water and fish samples from Mill Pond.
  • October 1 – Tribar issued a press release indicating that a temporary GAC mobile unit would be installed on October 5, 2018, to treat their industrial wastewater to remove PFOS prior to discharge into the city of Wixom’s sanitary sewer.A permanent system will be installed in December.
  • October 4 – The MDEQ provided results from Portage Lake largemouth bass to the MDHHS collected earlier in the summer.This data helps with the ongoing investigation but does not alter the existing fish consumption advisory.
  • October 4 – The MDEQ sent a violation notice to Tribar as a result of the elevated storm water discharges from the facility.Tribar will be required to conduct a storm water characterization study and implement appropriate controls.
  • October 11 – The effluent from the Wixom WWTP was 940 ng/l for PFOS. The effluent from Tribar Plant 4 into the collection was <1.6 ng/l for PFOS.
  • October 15 – The effluent from the Wixom WWTP was 530 ng/l for PFOS.
  • October 16 – The MDEQ met with representatives from the Daimler Chrysler Scio facility to discuss the next phase of investigation for the PFAS investigation at the facility that will include delineation of groundwater contamination and storm water sampling.The facility will be submitting a work plan for MDEQ review and approval in December.
  • October 29-30 – The MDEQ collects surface water samples from the Upper Huron River Watershed, including from sites on the Huron River, Mann Creek, Woodruff Creek, Pettibone Creek, Norton Creek, Ore Creek, Arms Creek, the Portage River, Honey Creek (Livingston County), and Davis Creek.

November

  • November 6 – The effluent from the Wixom WWTP was 240 ppt for PFOS.
  • November 14 - Influent, effluent, and biosolids samples were collected at Wixom WWTP by AECOM as part of WRD’s biosolids survey.  The effluent was 270 ppt for PFOS.
  • November 26 – MDEQ sampled two groundwater treatment systems (granulated activated carbon-GAC) influent and effluent at the Residential Wells Holly Road Facility near Brighton High School north of Brighton Lake and two PFAS samples (influent and effluent) at Main Street Gregory near M-106 and Church Street, Unadilla Township adjacent to an unnamed County Drain flowing SSE.  Results were received late January 2019:
    • Residential Wells Holly Road: PFOS and PFOA were Non Detect in both the influent and the effluent; other PFAS were detected. Resampling is planned for Spring 2019.
    • Main Street Gregory: PFAS was below criteria but still present; resampling is planned for Spring 2019.
  • November 27 – MDEQ sampled the permitted wastewater discharge from the Sweepster-Harley Attachments facility located at 2800 North Zeeb Road, Dexter (site of former Daimler Chrysler Facility).Results were less than 1.6 ppt for PFOS.
  • November 27 – MDEQ sampled the permitted treated wastewater from the Pall Life Sciences Facility located at 642 South Wagner Road, Ann Arbor.Results were ND for Total Tested PFAS.
  • November 28 – The MDEQ received results from the October 29 and 30 sampling event.  PFOS concentrations in the Huron River exceeded 11 ppt at 7 of 8 sites, ranging from 15 to 88 ppt.  The eighth Huron River site, upstream of the Norton Creek confluence, had a PFOS concentration of 1 ppt.  For additional results, view the official report.

December

  • December 4 – The effluent from the Wixom WWTP was 150 ppt for PFOS.
  • December 18 – MDEQ and MDHHS provided an update on Huron River PFAS data and site investigations to local units of government, local health departments, and other stakeholders in the watershed via a webinar.
  • December 18 – MDEQ and MDHHS participated in public meeting hosted by the Huron River Watershed Council, the City of Ann Arbor, and the Washtenaw County Health Department at the Washtenaw Community College in Townsley Auditorium.
  • December 18 – MDEQ received a work plan for the next phase of investigation for the Daimler Chrysler Scio Facility and a revised work plan on December 20, 2018.  This work plan was approved by the MDEQ on December 21, 2018.  Work to be performed included additional sampling of monitoring wells present at the Facility to further investigate and define the presence of PFAS.  The work plan also required stormwater sampling during wet weather from 5 outfalls at the Facility.  Groundwater sampling will be conducted in January 2019, and stormwater sampling in early February 2019. 

January 2019

  • January – Groundwater sampling conducted at the Daimler Chrysler Scio Facility as part of the December 2018 work plan.
  • January 15 – The effluent from the Wixom WWTP was 130 ppt for PFOS.

February 2019

  • February 11 - Daimler Chrysler Scio Facility. MDEQ received a report summarizing the results of the groundwater sampling; the report confirmed that PFOS is venting to the Huron River over the GSI criterion in two areas. Similar to the first sampling event, no PFOA+PFOS concentrations over the drinking water criterion were detected.  Stormwater results were not yet available from the laboratory and were not included in the report. The report also made recommendations for additional investigation; the focus of which is to attempt to complete horizontal and vertical delineation of the PFOS plumes venting to the Huron River and to attempt to determine the source of the PFOS contamination in the two areas.

Huron Watershed Lakes & Impoundments with Fish Tissue PFOS Complete or Pending/Planned

 

  • February 13 – The effluent from the Wixom WWTP was 53 ppt for PFOS.
  • February 20 – Daimler Chrysler Scio Facility. MDEQ met with the consultant to further refine the next phase of investigation.  A work plan for that investigation will be developed following receipt and evaluation of the stormwater samples collected in early February. That work plan is expected to be completed by March 15, 2019.

March 2019

  • March 12 - The effluent from the Wixom WWTP was 30 ppt for PFOS.
  • March 26 - WRD receives fish PFAS results for Mann Creek, Pettibone Creek, Belleville Lake, and Flat Rock impoundment.  Summary of fish results received to date.

April 2019

  • April 3 - The effluent from the Wixom WWTP was 19 ppt for PFOS.
  • April 10-11 – Sampling of select residential wells for PFAS was conducted to evaluate drinking water safety and communication with the surface water and groundwater in the vicinity of Norton Creek.  Results are pending.
  • April 25 – Fish collected by WRD from Proud Lake
  • Rainbow trout (steelhead) from the Huron River downstream of Flat Rock provided by MDNR-Fisheries Division
  • April 29-30 – EGLE Water Resources collected surface water samples and storm water samples from Willow Run, Honey Creek (Washtenaw County), Horseshoe Creek, Pettibone Creek, Norton Creek, the outlet of Lake Sherwood, and the Huron River.

May 2019

  • May 16 – EGLE Water Resources Division received results from the April 29-30, 2019 surface water sampling event. PFOS was detected in samples from 12 sites and exceeded 11 ppt at five sites. Overall, these results suggest that surface water PFOS concentrations in Norton Creek, downstream of the Wixom WWTP continue to remain low relative to findings from earlier sampling efforts. This one-time sampling event did not find any potential sources in Hamburg Lake, Horseshoe Creek, or the outlet of Lake Sherwood. There may be potential sources of PFAS in Willow Run upstream of the I-94 Service Drive, in the west tributary of Willow Run, and at outfall WROF002; EGLE will conduct follow-up work in this watershed. See Surface Water Sampling Update for details.

Next Steps

  • Continue to work with the city of Wixom and Tribar to control/reduce discharges to the WWTP with the goal of meeting the Rule 57 water quality standards in Norton Creek under the IPP PFAS Initiative.
  • Evaluate known sources of environmental contamination, closed landfills, hazardous waste facilities, and facilities that discharge wastewater to the Huron River.
  • MDEQ will continue to sample fish from selected waterbodies in the Huron River watershed and provide results to the DHHS as available.

 

 


 

 

 

 

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