HOWARD CITY, Michigan — In Aug. 2018, PFAS contaminants were found in the water well at Tri-County Middle School. Nine months since those tests came back, Tri-County Area Schools has dug a new well, which is officially free of PFAS. 

The PFAS levels at the middle school tested at 62 parts per trillion (ppt), which is close to the 70 ppt advisory level set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

In a press release, the district said they immediately took measures to ensure a safe water supply for students and staff. Since August, Tri County Area Schools has been working with the MDEQ—now called the Michigan Department of Environment, Lakes and Energy— the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Prein and Newhof Engineering to find a permanent solution to the water problem.  

Tri County Area Schools said it took seven months of planning before they could start building the well. After that, the well was dug in five days. 

A new, deeper well was dug for the school. Using local well water information and associated soil layers, this one is 276 feet deep and goes through 130 feet of clay. The old well, where PFAS was detected, was only 80 feet deep.

On Thursday, Tri County Area Schools was told no PFAS were detected in the new well. 

The district offset the costs of the new water system with a $93,520 grant from the Drinking Water Contaminant Remediation Grant from the Department of Environment, Lakes and Energy. 

"The district is pleased that through its collaborative work with the MDHHS, EGLE and Prein and Newhof, quality and safe drinking water will be provided to the Middle School for many years," said Allen Cumings, the superintendent for Tri County Area Schools. 

The district plans to fully implement the new well in the fall. 

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