The water pollution or “TCE PLUME” issue in Antrim County is under control after haunting realtors and residents in Antrim County for decades.
As a realtor and Shanty Creek property owner, I have been very involved in this issue. I am thrilled to report that “REAL ESTATE IS BACK” due to long term efforts by hundreds of stakeholders and led by a community engagement process known as ACUTE (Antrim County United Through Ecology). This included active participation of local property owners associations, the Mancelona Area Water and Sewer Authority (MAWSA) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).
In fact, ACUTE has just released a video declaring this good news, and there is also a link below describing the facts as well as a map of the plume.
I have always been honest with my clients about the plume. It has cost me business, and caused issues with others in my business. However, I strongly believe it is vital to communicate to the public exactly what is happening to the water that we drink.
What is the TCE plume?
The TCE plume affects groundwater in an area between Mancelona and Bellaire.
The Mancelona Area Water and Sewer Authority (MAWSA) has been working to provide both short- and long-term solutions for the issue. Thanks to their efforts, residents and potential homeowners can rest assured that their drinking water will remain clean and safe.
TCE, a degreasing chemical, was used by Wickes Manufacturing in Antrim County from 1947-1967. Waste containing TCE was discarded in certain areas and the TCE seeped into the groundwater. TCE is now known to be a carcinogen and is no longer used, but since TCE cannot evaporate it remains in certain areas of groundwater. The TCE spreads through the groundwater at a slow rate and the impacted area continues to grow every year.
Who is responsible for the plume?
Wickes Manufacturing is no longer in business, so the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has taken ownership of this issue. They have also established the Mancelona Area Water and Sewer Authority (MAWSA) to extend the public supply of clean water. The Health Department of Northwest Michigan (HDMN) has also become involved.
TCE is present in groundwater in an area approximately 6 miles long by 1.5 miles wide, as shown in the map to the right.
The DEQ regularly samples the water in potentially affected areas. If you are concerned and would like to discuss adding your well to the sampling list, you can call the Health Department of Northwest Michigan as listed below. You can also use the DEQ’s interactive website to understand the proximity of TCE to your property.
Does the plume affect my property’s value?
Your property’s value can be affected if it is not safe to use. However, the DEQ has taken steps to ensure all residents have access to safe drinking water, so property values should not be impacted. New wells are not being installed in contaminated areas. If groundwater becomes unsafe, the DEQ provides funding through MAWSA to provide the necessary solution for the affected area.
What is being done to fix the issue?
The DEQ has already invested over $20 million to address the plume. The DEQ and HDMN regularly monitor TCE levels in groundwater in potential risk areas. If TCE is detected in a residential well, that home is connected to the public water supply to ensure access to safe water. Projects are being initiated to expand the supply of clean public water, improve monitoring of residential wells, and more. The fact sheet below contains more details on these projects.
Who can I contact if I have questions?
Please direct any questions to the DEQ or HDNM.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
Contact: Janice Adams at 989-705-3434
Health Department of Northwest Michigan (HDNM)
Contact: Scott Kendzierski at 231-547-7651