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Sturgis City Landfill (Sturgis, St. Joseph County)

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Please contact the Site Lead for the most up-to-date status of this site.

EGLE site lead

Ray Spaulding, or 517-290-2401.

Waste Disposal Questions

Please note that this landfill is CLOSED and does not accept waste. 


The former Sturgis City Landfill also known as Big Hill Landfill is on the northeast corner of the intersection of US-12 and Big Hill Road. Highway expansion intercepted drums of industrial waste buried on the south end of the landfill in the 1970's. A court order required the city to evaluate the resultant contaminant plume, design, install and operate a groundwater remediation system and continue monitoring the groundwater until the contamination was no longer detectable.

Remediation of the solvent-contaminated groundwater utilizing a pump and treat (lagoon aeration) system has been ongoing since the 1980's. Treated groundwater is discharged to a wetland south of the site. The groundwater remediation system is operated by the city's wastewater treatment plant, and as part of their groundwater discharge permit compliance program, they tested the contaminated groundwater at the landfill in 2018 for PFAS. Test results indicated that PFAS groundwater contamination was present.

Based on the detected groundwater contamination and the risk to potential drinking water receptors near the site, EGLE requested additional PFAS testing of the treated effluent and additional purge wells and monitor wells on site.

Groundwater flows radially to the south, downgradient of the landfill. The groundwater remediation system is on the southeast corner of the site and discharges treated groundwater into a wetlands associated with the Fawn River, south of this intersection. There are several residential homes and businesses located along Big Hill Road, south of the landfill that are potential receptors.

Content posted May 2021.

Site map

See an aerial view of the location of the site

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Drinking water

Municipal water does not extend to this area of the city; local residents rely on private wells for potable water. EGLE met with the local health department, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to discuss potential residential well sampling. Recommendations were provided to the city in March 2021.

Anticipated activities

EGLE requested the city sample and test the two nearest downgradient water supply wells in 2021 and the city agreed to sample these along with their regular site sampling in October.

Historical timeline

    • In November 2018, the City of Sturgis reported to EGLE that groundwater at purge well PW-3 was contaminated with 11 ppt total PFOA and PFOS.
    • In December 2018, EGLE requested the City of Sturgis sample the treated effluent (outfall) from the groundwater remediation system to evaluate PFAS contamination.  Testing conducted by the city in January 2019 detected 5.9 ppt PFOA in the treated effluent that discharges to the wetland south of the site.
    • On October 31, 2019, the city collected groundwater samples from the two on-site purge wells and the treated effluent for PFAS analysis, per EGLE's request. 
    • On December 4, 2019, the city reported testing detected 11.5 ppt PFOA and 5.2 ppt PFOS in a groundwater sample from purge well PW-3.  No PFOA or PFOS was detected in the groundwater sample from purge well PW-4.  Testing found 4.2 ppt PFOA in the treated effluent sample.  Based on these analytical results, the city offered to collect additional groundwater samples from downgradient monitor wells on site and conducted this sampling in February 2020.
    • On March 12, 2020, EGLE received the results of this downgradient groundwater sampling.  Testing found 10.4 ppt PFOA and 5.3 ppt PFOS in a groundwater sample from monitor well 85-1 and 6.8 ppt PFOA in a groundwater sample from monitor well FV-5D.  Monitor well FV-5S was also tested and no PFOA or PFOS was detected in that groundwater sample.
    • On March 12, 2020 EGLE informed the local public health agency and the Department of Health and Human Services of these results.  The city was informed that because the results reported up to that point were below the drinking water criteria at the time (70 ppt PFOS + PFOA combined), EGLE was not requesting the city sample additional downgradient monitor wells or private water supply wells to evaluate PFAS contamination, however, that an expected reduction to the drinking water criteria could necessitate additional downgradient PFAS evaluation.
    • On August 5 and August 28, 2020, the City of Sturgis conducted annual site groundwater monitoring as part of its court settlement.  The City of Sturgis tested the water supply wells of 13 area residents downgradient of the landfill, results were received on October 12, 2020.
    • On October 12, 2020, EGLE received the results from the August sampling event.  
    • On November 9-10, 2020, the City of Sturgis re-tested pumping wells 3 and 4 and their treated effluent. EGLE received the sampling results on January 4, 2021 and reviewed the data.
    • On March 16, 2021, EGLE and DHHS staff discussed next steps with the local public health agency.

    Sampling Results Summary

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

    Type of Sample

    Date Sampled (or Range)

    Numberof Sample Results Received

    Number of Samples above Criteria*

    Residential Wells August 5 and 28, 2020 13 0

    Groundwater Monitoring Wells

    October 2019 - November 2020 3 1
    *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.