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Engineer hired to monitor dump wells

Published 8:24pm Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dowagiac City Council this week hired an engineer to monitor 25 groundwater wells installed in and around the former Nubour Street landfill.
Council selected Conestoga-Rovers and Associates (CRA) of Plainwell, which costs $8,500 for monitoring, plus actual lab costs not to exceed $5,400 for a total $13,940, according to City Manager Kevin Anderson.
Monitoring is required annually, so the city needs to budget this cost each year.
For a number of years, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) provided groundwater monitoring, but “has reached a point where they are going to end monitoring activities and are required to either abandon the wells or transfer the wells to another party,” Anderson said. “It is now the city’s responsibility to assume the role of ongoing groundwater monitoring.”
Council in November 2010 approved a transfer of monitoring wells agreement with DEQ that let the city avoid the cost of constructing future monitoring wells.
“Consent to Enter” forms that allow the city access to the wells have been sent to property owners, so “we are now in a position to move forward with monitoring,” Anderson said.
Funding for this ongoing monitoring comes from the solid waste millage collected annually.
According to the RFP, or Request for Proposals, the 67-acre site operated as a municipal landfill from about March 1959 to March 1984.
In 1981, samples collected from private water wells indicated the presence of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, including toluene and trichloroethene (TCE).
DEQ and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted an investigation in 1986. DEQ completed closure in December 1992 contingent upon construction of an appropriate cap and implementation of deed restrictions.
In 1997, additional issues were identified with construction of a new residential development. Subsequently, in 2006 DEQ conducted additional groundwater sampling. Results indicated VOCs in monitoring wells on and off site, with TCE being the primary concern and the effectiveness of the landfill cap questioned.
DEQ issued the city a “demand letter” in August 2009. DEQ identified the city as a liable party and ordered it to comply with Part 201 related to the contamination by evaluating the nature and extent of, implementing source control, meeting due care obligations and pursuing any necessary response activities related to on- and off-site “impacts.”

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