Water expert: Municipal filter will cost millions

Plainfield Township just approved a $400,000 investment for a municipal water filtration system to remove PFAS.
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The investment Plainfield Township is making in a new filtration system for its municipal water will likely cost millions, a water expert said Wednesday. 

The Plainfield Township Board approved authorization of a $400,000 on a activated carbon municipal filtration system to rid the water of  PFAS chemicals. The Environmental Protection Agency set a safe drinking water advisory level of 70 parts per trillion (ppt.) for the chemical family 

Plainfield Township's water tests at 8 ppt and recently maxed out at 10 ppt, said Cameron Van Wyngarden, the township superintendent. 

"We're not satisfied with safe. We want to have it as absolutely high a quality as we can for our customers," Van Wyngarden said. 

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There are 40,000 people drinking Plainfield Township water. Many have attended board meetings to tell supervisors they are not satisfied with any PFAS levels in the municipal water. 

 "We've met with multiple vendors," Van Wyngarden said. "We're to the point of moving forward with a proposed system."

The activated carbon filter the township plans to use is the prescribed remedy all over the United States, said Richard Rediske, a scientist and professor at Grand Valley State University's Annis Water Resources Institute. 

"All the active sites in the carbon attract the PFAS chemicals and they stick right to the carbon particles and the water comes out clean," he said. 

The filter will likely cost $1-2 million before maintenance, Rediske said.

"You have to do engineering," he said. "You have to do what's called a pilot test to make sure that you've got the right amount of carbon. And then you have to install it, and then you have to monitor it." 

There will be additional costs, and the township does not want the residents to have to pay, Van Wyngarden said. 

"This is something that has happened to Plainfield Township water customers," he said. "It should not necessarily be the cost that they bear."

Plainfield Township said it's working with "responsible parties" to discuss payment options. There is no timeline for the filter installation. 

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