Council considers restrictions

Published 8:00 am Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dowagiac City Council is considering taking action to further restrict the use of groundwater near the former Sundstrand property.

The group of Dowagiac leaders held the first reading of a groundwater protection ordinance their meeting Monday night, which would restriction the construction of wells around the former factory, located on what is now

The Business Center of Southwestern Michigan on Prairie Ronde Street. If passed, the ordinance will affect certain properties location on Prairie Ronde, Florence, King, McMaster and Sheldon streets, Louise Avenue and Rudy Road.

The ordinance was created in response to the longtime environmental cleanup efforts at the Sundstrand property, which at one time had dumped a large quantity of trichloroethylene (TCE) into local soil, which eventually made its way into nearby well water reserves.

“Over the last 20-25 years, there’s been a tremendous amount of cleanup,” said City Manager Kevin Anderson. “It’s reached a point where they [the property owners] don’t have to be involved in further cleanup activity, but there is continuing monitoring requirements.”

The properties included in the ordinance’s protection zone are those the city deems to have had environmental hazard due to the contamination, Anderson said. By enforcing restrictions on these properties, the city will hope to minimize any future exposure to public drinking water from this groundwater.

“This isn’t really a large issue from the city’s standpoint, because we already have ordinances on the books that say if you’re going to have a house in the city you have to hook up to municipal water,” Anderson said. “This would go further to prohibit future wells that are used for irrigation and things like that.”

The ordinance would also require property owners to abandon previously built wells on their land, though the city believes the only wells currently operating in the zone are monitoring wells, Anderson said.

The ordinance was created by the city attorney, and has been vetted by MDEQ and EPA, Anderson said.

A second reading of the ordinance will take place during council’s next meeting Nov. 23, after which the members will decide as to whether or not to adopt it.