Gratiot County, Ithaca, Ithaca Sanitary Landfill

Updated: December 11, 2019

Aerial Map of Ithaca Sanitary LandfillBackground

This site is a former licensed landfill for the disposal of solid waste. The landfill is owned by the city of Ithaca and operated in the 1960s through the 1970s. In Fall 2017, concerned citizens brought information to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) indicating that waste potentially containing PFAS was disposed of at the landfill.

Recent Accomplishments

  • On April 1, 2019, EGLE sent an Analysis of Financial Capability to Conduct Response Activities to the city of Ithaca.
  • On July 3, 2019, the City of Ithaca provided EGLE with city records associated with the sanitary landfill operations. 

Next Steps

  • The city of Ithaca will coordinate response activities and work with EGLE to manage contamination on this property.

Residential Well Testing/Alternate Water Information

  • 13 residential wells have been tested by EGLE. There have been no detections of PFOS or PFOA in residential well samples and no exceedances of the Lifetime Health Advisory (LHA) of 70 parts per trillion (ppt).
  • No additional residential well sampling is scheduled at this time as residential well results indicate the contaminated perched groundwater is not connected to the deeper groundwater used for drinking water. 
  • For additional information on residential well testing and results, visit the Frequently Asked Questions.
  • EGLE has sampled all municipal water supplies for PFAS. View the results for the city of Ithaca.

Upcoming Community Engagement

  • None scheduled at this time.
Sampling: PFOS and PFOA Only

Type of Sample

Date Sampled

Number of Samples

Number of Results Received

Number of Non-detects

Number Between Non-detect and standard*

Number of > Standard

Drinking Water (residential wells)

Sep 13 - Sep 27, 2018 13 13 13 0 0
Groundwater Jul 30 - Aug 2, 2018 8 8 1 3 4
Surface Water Sep 13, 2018 4 4 2 0 2
Cumulative   25 25 16 3 6

*Groundwater results are compared to EGLE Part 201 Criteria of 70 ppt PFOSA+PFOA.
*Residential well results are compared to the EPA Lifetime Health Advisory Level of 70 ppt PFOS+PFOA.
*Surface water results are compared to Rule 57 surface water quality values of 12 ppt PFOS and 12,000 ppt PFOA.

Sampling notes

  • Other PFAS analytes were detected in surface and groundwater samples. There are no federal or state standards for these analytes.
  • Groundwater samples collected on site in July and August 2018 were non-detect or below Part 201 criteria for volatile (Method 8260), semi-volatile organic compounds (Method 8270), and methane (Method 8015).

Ithaca Sanitary Landfill Historical Timeline

Ithaca Sanitary Landfill is a former licensed landfill for the disposal of solid waste. The landfill is owned by the city of Ithaca and operated in the 1960s through the 1970s. It is located at West Washington Road, approximately two miles west of downtown Ithaca in Gratiot County. While closed, the landfill is still owned and maintained by the city of Ithaca.

In the fall of 2017, concerned citizens brought information to the Mid-Michigan District Health Department and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), indicating that waste which possibly contained PFAS was disposed of at the landfill from Wolverine World Wide’s Ithaca plant. 

EGLE conducted a groundwater investigation on the landfill property in the summer of 2018 to determine if PFAS contamination or other contaminants were present. During the investigation EGLE encountered shallow (perched) groundwater above a hard, dry clay layer. Well log descriptions from nearby private residential wells also indicate a clay layer at similar depths in the area. Residential wells surrounding the landfill property obtain drinking water from an aquifer below this clay layer.

Michigan’s cleanup standard for groundwater used for drinking water is 70 ppt PFOA and PFOS individually or combined.  When groundwater sampling results came back over 70 ppt, EGLE conducted sampling of adjacent residential wells.  These results were non-detect, suggesting that the contaminated perched groundwater does not appear to be connected to the deeper groundwater used for drinking water in the area. 

Surface water drains from the landfill to the county drain located on the south side of the property. The county drain flows to Pine Creek, which flows to Rainbow Lake. Rainbow Lake is highly used for recreation, such as swimming, boating and fishing.

  • During July and August 2018, EGLE collected eight shallow (perched) groundwater samples.
    • Groundwater samples collected on the property were above 70 ppt for PFOA and PFOS.
  • Between September 13 and 27, 2018, EGLE sampled 13 residential wells that surrounded the landfill property.
    • All residential well samples were non-detect.
  • On September 13, 2018, EGLE collected two surface water samples from the landfill property and two surface water samples from the county drain.
    • Results of surface water samples on the landfill property were above surface water quality standards.
    • Results of the surface water samples from the county drain were non-detect for PFOA and PFOS.
  • On November 1, 2018, EGLE met with the Ithaca Sanitary Landfill project team, which includes members from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Mid-Michigan District Health Department, to discuss updates. It was established that project team meetings will now take place monthly, as needed, organized by EGLE.
  • On November 5, 2018, EGLE received analytical data from EGLE’s statewide public water supply testing initiative indicating that the city of Ithaca’s municipal supply is non-detect for total tested PFAS.
  • On December 6, 2018, EGLE sent Part 201 Compliance Communication and Information Request Letters to the city of Ithaca. Response is expected by January 18 and January 20, 2019, respectively.
  • On April 1, 2019, EGLE sent an Analysis of Financial Capability to Conduct Response Activities to the city of Ithaca.
  • On July 3, 2019, the City of Ithaca provided EGLE with city records associated with the sanitary landfill operations.