Rockford school disabling water fountains due to Wolverine dumping

Rockford water Crisis Update school

ROCKFORD, MICH. - According to an email sent out to parents and members of the Rockford community, East Rockford Middle School will be disabling all water fountains on school premises. 

Superintendent Michael Schibler says that late Wednesday afternoon, he was notified by the DEQ, the Kent County Health Department and Wolverine Worldwide that a disposal area just a ½ mile northeast of the school had been located. 

The disposal area, which contained leather and rubber scraps, had been located between 9 and 10 Mile Roads. 

►Related: 300+ homes in Plainfield Twp. to get water filtration systems from Wolverine Worldwide

Schibler says that his immediate concern is the safety of students and staff -- which lead to the disabling of all water fountains at the school. In the email, Schibler said that Wolverine will provide bottled water for cooking and drinking Thursday morning and will continue to do so until school administrators know the status of East Rockford's well water. 

A woman living in the area said she too will only use bottled water, until the results from the water analysis come back. 

"I don't know, it's confusing now because we don't have information and we need to know, we need to know, it's time to get this out in the open and find out," Rhoda Pell said. "This is a horrible thing to happen to an area. We talk about Flint, well guess what, we may not be in much better shape right here."

Water samples were taken from the school on Wednesday and results are being expedited -- they should be available within two weeks. The water is being tested for fluorinated per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are present. PFAS have been classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an emerging contaminant -- they are a class of man-made chemicals introduced in the 1950s to make products resistant to heat, stains, grease and water.

According to a release from the MDEQ -- eight properties adjacent to the subject area will also be including in the testing as a precautionary measure. The MDEQ was contacted by Cannon Township landowners who reported evidence of waste disposal on their property in the area of Ramsdell between 9 Mile and 10 Mile roads. 

►Related: State finds more homes with contaminated water in Belmont
►Related: Chemicals found in drinking water near old tannery dump site

“Any information will be shared with residents via the Township's Facebook page, as soon as it is available,” said Cannon Township Supervisor Steve Grimm. “The Township will work with all involved to ensure the safety of its residents, the staff and students of the middle school."

For more information, For more information, residents can visit www.michigan.gov/belmont or call the DEQ Environmental Assistance Center at 1-800-662-9278.

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April Stevens is a multi-platform producer at WZZM 13. Have a news tip? Email news@wzzm13.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter.

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