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Belding Wastewater Treatment Plant (Belding, Ionia County)

EGLE Site Lead: Sydney Ruhala, RuhalaS@Michigan.gov or 517-599-5356. Content last updated August 4, 2022.

Background

The city of Belding (City) operates the Belding Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) located at 1500 Wells Street, which is an approximately 54-acre wastewater treatment system that went into operation in 1965. The WWTP includes five wastewater treatment lagoons and discharges treated wastewater to the Flat River.

Since 2018, under EGLE’s Industrial Pretreatment Program (IPP) PFAS Initiative, the City has been required to conduct quarterly PFAS sampling of the treated wastewater from the Belding WWTP. This sampling found PFAS in the treated wastewater, including PFOA and PFOS. The City evaluated potential sources of PFAS to the WWTP and identified one source: leachate from the Pitsch Sanitary Landfill. As of May 1, 2021, the City no longer accepts leachate from the landfill for treatment to reduce the amount of PFAS entering the WWTP. Additional reduction efforts are being evaluated. 

In July 2020, the City sampled sludge in the five wastewater treatment lagoons for PFAS as part of their ongoing investigation. Elevated concentrations of PFAS were detected in sludge from three of the lagoons. The Belding WWTP has had ongoing issues with lagoon leakage (i.e., a discharge of wastewater from the lagoon to the groundwater through the bottom and sides of the lagoon) and is currently working with EGLE to address this compliance issue. Due to this previous evidence of lagoon leakage, EGLE was concerned that PFAS from the lagoon sludge may be entering the groundwater. As a result, EGLE requested that the City sample five existing groundwater monitoring wells, located downgradient of the lagoons, for PFAS. PFAS was detected above criteria in two of the five groundwater monitoring wells.

Estimated shallow groundwater flow is to the south/southeast towards the Flat River. EGLE is working with the City to determine the impact (if any) to the Flat River and identify residential wells downgradient of the lagoons.

Belding Wastewater Treatment Plant Map

Belding Precautionary Residential Well Sampling Effort Video

Belding Precautionary Residential Well Sampling Effort

Recording includes a brief overview of MPART, PFAS and associated health effects, and information on the precautionary residential well sampling effort in Belding.

Recent Accomplishments

  • On February 10, 2022, the City submitted the Supplemental Hydrogeological Study Report which summarized the results from the groundwater investigation for PFAS conducted in November 2021. Out of the 11 new groundwater monitoring wells installed in November 2021, PFOA was detected above Part 201 criteria in five of the wells. The highest result was 23 ppt PFOA. PFAS was not detected in any of the wells on the south side of the Flat River.

Next Steps

  • EGLE will continue to work with the City to define the extent of PFAS contamination in the groundwater and address the source of PFAS to the groundwater from the wastewater treatment lagoons.

Residential Well Testing/Alternate Water Information

  • EGLE in coordination with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the Ionia County Health Department will expand the precautionary residential well sampling if determined to be necessary.  

Upcoming Community Engagement

  • None scheduled at this time.

Sampling Results Summary

Type of Sample

Date Sampled (or range)

Number of Sample Results Received

Number of Samples above Criteria*

Groundwater Monitoring Wells February 2021 - November 2021 16 5
Residential Wells August 27, 2021 10 0

 

*Residential well and groundwater monitoring well results are compared to EGLE Part 201 criteria for 7 PFAS compounds effective 12/21/2020:  PFOS (16 ppt), PFOA (8 ppt), PFNA (6 ppt), PFHxS (51 ppt), PFHxA (400,000 ppt), PFBS (420 ppt), and HFPO-DA (370 ppt).

Sampling Notes

  • None at this time. 

Historical Timeline

    • In July 2020, as part of the City's investigation, sludge samples were collected in the five wastewater treatment lagoons.  
    • On October 20, 2020, the City provided EGLE with the PFAS results from the sludge samples collected in July 2020. Elevated concentrations of PFAS were detected in sludge from three of the lagoons.  Due to concern that PFAS in the sludge may be entering the groundwater through the bottom and sides of the lagoons, EGLE requested that the City sample five existing groundwater monitoring wells, located downgradient of the lagoons, for PFAS.
    • On February 26, 2021, city of Belding contractors collected groundwater samples for PFAS analysis from five monitoring wells located on the southeast side of the Belding WWTP lagoons.
    • On March 24, 2021, EGLE received results from the February 2021 groundwater sampling. PFAS was detected in two of the five groundwater monitoring wells. PFOA was detected above criteria in both wells, with the highest PFOA detection of 19 ppt.  
    • On April 19, 2021, EGLE met with the City to discuss the February 2021 groundwater PFAS results and next steps for investigating and addressing PFAS in groundwater at the site.
    • On June 30, 2021, EGLE went door-to-door along Flat River Trail (between Zahm Road and Palmer Road) in Belding to deliver access agreement forms to 23 homes for residential well sampling.
    • On August 27, 2021, EGLE contractors collected samples from nine residential drinking water wells along Flat River Trail (between Zahm Road and Palmer Road) in Belding. Testing showed that of the nine wells, eight were non-detect for PFAS. PFAS was detected in one well but was below drinking water criteria.
    • On September 29, 2021, EGLE contractors collected a sample from one additional residential drinking water well along Flat River Trail (between Zahm Road and Palmer Road) in Belding. Testing showed that the well was non-detect for PFAS.
    • On October 22, 2021, EGLE approved a Supplemental Hydrogeological Study Work Plan from the City to evaluate if PFAS-contaminated groundwater at the WWTP is venting to the Flat River.
    • On November 1-3, 2021, the City installed seven groundwater monitoring wells at the Belding WWTP and four groundwater monitoring wells on the south side of the Flat River as part of the approved Supplemental Hydrogeological Study Work Plan.
    • On November 16-18, 2021, the City sampled 16 groundwater monitoring wells for PFAS as part of the approved Supplemental Hydrogeological Study Work Plan.