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Cedar Springs Historic Wastewater Treatment Lagoons and Discharge Fields (Cedar Springs, Kent County)

EGLE Site Lead: Kelly Moss, MossK@Michigan.gov or 616-215-4588. Webpage last updated May 24, 2021.

Background

The city of Cedar Springs operated a 45-acre wastewater lagoon system between 1965 and 1999 at 730 West Street NE (including parcels 725, 750, and 755 West Street NE). The former wastewater treatment plant lagoons were closed in place and covered with clean soil and seed mix.  Wastewater from Cedar Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) has been discharged to a new system since 1999. The current WWTP drain field is located at 4482 and 4550 Indian Lakes Road NE and is managed under a groundwater discharge permit.  Groundwater at the historic lagoon site continues to be sampled annually by the city of Cedar Springs for ammonia, arsenic, iron, and manganese in accordance with the Remedial Action Plan.  The current WWTP discharge field monitoring wells are sampled quarterly in accordance with the groundwater discharge permit.  The results of the analyses are submitted to EGLE's Water Resources Division (WRD) as required.

At the request of EGLE, in late January 2020, the city of Cedar Springs collected groundwater samples from existing shallow monitoring wells in the area surrounding their historic wastewater treatment lagoons and their current WWTP discharge fields and submitted them for laboratory analysis of PFAS.  This request was based on the fact that low level PFAS contamination had been identified by some residents in the area who sampled their own drinking water wells for PFAS.  While concentrations in these area residential wells did not exceed 70 parts-per-trillion (ppt) for PFOA and PFOS, some drinking water wells did contain levels of PFOA (highest being 18.2 ppt) which exceed the PFOA criteria of 8 ppt.  EGLE resampled seven of the residential wells and confirmed those results.

Results of Cedar Springs' late January 2020 groundwater sampling identified the presence of PFOA and other PFAS compounds in groundwater at both the historic lagoons and the current WWTP discharge fields.  The PFAS levels were below 70 ppt PFOS and PFOA, however PFOA was identified at levels above 8 ppt.

Shallow groundwater flows to the west/southwest, while the deeper groundwater aquifer is estimated to flow in a more southernly direction.

Data suggests that the historic Cedar Springs WWTP discharge lagoons and the current Cedar Springs WWTP discharge fields are a potential source for the low-level PFAS concentrations identified in the area. EGLE has obtained state funding and hired a contractor to sample area drinking water wells for PFAS, in order to gain a better understanding of area groundwater quality and help identify any potential risks to nearby drinking water wells. 

Cedar Springs WWTP Investigation Map

Recent Accomplishments

  • On March 16, 2021, EGLE mailed out a sampling request letter to approximately 68 properties located just south of Russell Road and just west of White Creek Ave. 
  • On April 15 and 16, 2021, EGLE sampled 31 residential wells that provided access and responded to the March 16, 2021 sampling request letter; 6 wells had detections of PFOA that exceed drinking water criteria with the highest result being 22 ppt.

Next Steps

  • EGLE's sampling subcontractor AECOM will canvass the sampling area and leave door hangers to try and contact residents who have not responded to sampling requests to date.
  • EGLE will review sampling data collected to determine if additional residential well sampling is needed.
  • EGLE granted the the City of Cedar Springs an extension to submit their Remedial Investigation Work Plan for the historic discharge lagoons property until June 15, 2021.   

Residential Well Testing/Alternate Water Information

  • In late 2017 through 2018, 16 residents in the nearby Russell Ridge neighborhood sampled their own drinking water wells for PFAS and shared those results with EGLE.  Results were below 70 ppt for PFOA and PFOS, the highest result being 18.2 ppt for PFOA.
  • In January 2019, EGLE resampled six of the 16 houses that privately tested their well and sampled an additional well not previously tested. These seven drinking water wells were tested for PFAS.  These seven (7) wells were selected for sampling based on their geographic location and well depth, to verify if the private sampling results were representative of actual groundwater conditions. Results indicated that there was PFOA in some of the drinking water wells, the highest concentration being 15 ppt for PFOA.  These homes had existing whole house filters previously installed by the homeowner.
  • EGLE requested to sample an additional 54 drinking water wells in June 2020, an additional 132 drinking water wells in October 2020, and another 68 wells in March 2021. These sampling locations were selected  based on well depth, geology, and location to suspected source area. As of May 24, 2021, EGLE has sampled 169 residential wells for PFAS. Properties with detections of PFAS have been offered point-of-use filters by local and state health departments.

Upcoming Community Engagement

  • A virtual update meeting for the community is tentatively being planned for Summer/Fall 2021. Additional information to follow.

Sampling Results Summary

This table was updated to include all seven PFAS criteria effective December 21, 2020.

Type of Sample

Date Sampled (or Range)

Number of Sample Results Received

Number of Samples above Criteria*

Residential Wells

January 2019 - March 2021 199 79
Groundwater Monitoring Wells January 2020 9 5

*Residential well and groundwater monitoring well results are compared to EGLE Part 201 criteria for 7 PFAS compounds:  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

    • On January 21 and 22, 2020, at the request of EGLE, Cedar Springs collected groundwater samples from five monitoring wells located at the historic lagoon property, and from four monitoring wells located at current WWTP discharge fields.  These samples were submitted for laboratory analysis of PFAS.  EGLE covered the cost for the analyses.
    • On February 13, 2020, results from the January 2020 groundwater sampling event were received from the lab. PFAS compounds were detected in all of the groundwater samples collected. PFOA in four of the five monitoring wells sampled at the historic lagoon property exceeded the new cleanup criteria of 8 ppt for PFOA, with the highest PFOA detection being 43 ppt.  One monitoring well at the current WWTP discharge fields exceeded the cleanup criteria of 8 ppt PFOA, with a concentration of 10 ppt.
    • On April 10, 2020, EGLE hosted an online meeting with the city of Cedar Springs and their environmental consultant to discuss the January groundwater sampling event PFAS results.
    • On April 17, 2020, EGLE emailed the city of Cedar Springs requesting steps be taken to further investigate and sample nearby residential wells which are located downgradient of the historical lagoons and current WWTP discharge fields. EGLE also offered dates to have a follow-up meeting to discuss the requested sampling. 
    • On April 23, 2020, EGLE received a letter from an attorney representing the city of Cedar Springs declining to conduct any additional sampling or response activities at that time since the groundwater levels detected at the historic lagoon property and current WWTP discharge fields were below the previous Part 201 cleanup criteria of 70 ppt for PFOA and PFOS.
    • In April and May 2020, EGLE worked to secure a contract with an environmental consulting firm to conduct residential well sampling of approximately 54 properties located downgradient of the historic lagoons and current WWTP discharge fields. On June 24, 2020, MPART hosted an online meeting with local officials and representatives/senators regarding this ongoing investigation.
    • On June 25, 2020, EGLE mailed out well sampling request letters to 54 properties in the area where EGLE was requesting access to sample their drinking water well for PFAS.
    • EGLE obtained access from 27 of the 54 properties, and these 27 wells were sampled by EGLE's subcontractor the week of July 27 through July 31, 2020.
    • On August 10, 2020, EGLE mailed out a second sampling request letter to the 27 properties who did not respond to the first sampling request from June 25, 2020.
    • On September 3, 2020, EGLE's subcontractor sampled seven additional properties who responded to the second sampling request letter and left door-hangers at the remaining 20 addresses who had not responded to date.
    • On September 15, 2020, EGLE's subcontractor sampled 4 additional properties who responded to the second sampling request letter and/or door-hanger notice. 
    • On September 28, 2020, a project update was given during the Virtual MPART Grand Rapids Regional Webinar:
    • On October 2, 2020, EGLE Water Resources Division sent the city of Cedar Springs a "Part 201 Facility Notification and Part 22 Rules Request" letter, which requested that the city of Cedar Springs submit the following work plans by November 16, 2020:
      • A work plan for a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study for the former Cedar Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant former lagoon area (725, 730, 750, and 755 West Street NE);
      • A work plan for hydrogeologic investigation of the current discharge fields (4482 and 4550 Indian lakes Road NE).  
    • On October 14, 2020, EGLE mailed out a sampling request letters to an additional 132 properties in the area where EGLE is requesting access to sample their drinking water well for PFAS. This testing is scheduled to occur between November 9 and November 20, 2020. 
    • On November 16, 2020, the city of Cedar Springs provided EGLE a letter response to EGLE's October 2, 2020 letter.
    • Between November 12 and January 15, 2021, EGLE sampled 87 residential wells that provided access and responded to the October 14 sampling request letter; 50 wells had detections of PFOA that exceed drinking water criteria with the highest result of 20 ppt.
    • On December 8, 2020, EGLE Water Resources Division sent a letter to the city of Cedar Springs notifying them they need to submit the work plans previously requested in the October 2, 2020 letter by January 15, 2021.
    • On December 28, 2020, the City of Cedar Springs provided EGLE a letter response to EGLE's December 8, 2020 letter.
    • On January 14, 2021, EGLE mailed out a second sampling request letter to 52 properties who had not yet responded to the October 14, 2020 sampling request letter.
    • The City of Cedar Springs submitted draft work plans outlined in EGLE's October 2, 2020 and December 8, 2020 letters on February 15, 2021. 
    • Between February 18 and March 4, 2021, EGLE sampled 12 residential wells that provided access and responded to the January 14, 2021 second sampling request letter; 9 wells had detections of PFOA that exceed drinking water criteria with the highest result being 14 ppt.