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Plainfield Township wins award for best-tasting water; some worried about message it sends

Plainfield Water Plant Web Photo
Posted at 6:29 PM, Feb 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-10 20:01:14-05

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — This week Plainfield Township officials accepted an award for the best-tasting water in Michigan. They will now have the chance to travel to San Antonia to compete for the best tasting water in all the country. It's something worth celebrating after years of dealing with PFAS; but the optics of the situation feel wrong to a handful of residents.

The 2022 award for best-tasting water in the state was given out by the Michigan section of the American Water Works Association. The different water samples were judged based on appearance, taste and aroma.

"We have never exceeded a state or federal maximum concentration of PFAS in our drinking water. We closed down an entire well field in 2015 that had an excess of PFAS. We still had trace amounts in our other two well fields that did not exceed drinking water standards," Plainfield Township Water Treatment Plant Superintendent Donald Petrovich said to FOX 17 in a statement.

"Even so, we endeavored to remove even these trace amounts of PFAS by changing our entire filtration system to granular activated carbon (GAC) at great cost."

Those GAC filters were implemented in 2018 at a cost of around $400,000.

According to the township, "GAC has proven to be highly effective in eliminating PFAS, bacteria, pathogens and other undesirable elements from drinking water. It does this by using activated carbon to absorb contaminants from the water as they filter through."

Despite this, some township residents who were getting their water from private wells were exposed to high levels of PFAS.

While the filtration plant pumps out safe and clean water, residents like Tobyn McNaughton feel the township entering a "best-tasting water" contest is inappropriate.

“I guess that's just one piece of the water, how it tastes, but I think... it's more complex, and that made it oversimplified,” she told FOX 17 Thursday.

“It's odorless, it's tasteless; that's why it's so scary.”

Her family was on well water from 2012 until 2020, when they were hooked up to the township's supply.

Her family has had their blood levels tested multiple times for PFAS, saying they have found potentially concerning levels. Their well was likely subject to a plume of PFAS coming from the House Street disposal site about one mile north of their home.

“We're definitely, probably going to be one of the most cautious families in this area because of what we went through,” McNaughton said.

They now use mostly filtered water from their fridge or bottled water out of an abundance of caution.

McNaughton certainly appreciates all of the efforts undertaken by the township over recent years, but hopes any future discourse about water quality in Michigan happens with a bit more context as to what some have been dealing with.

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