Senate approves Stamas bill to require U.S. Air Force to fix Oscoda well water problem

Sen. Jim Stamas

Sen. Jim Stamas

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved legislation sponsored by Sen. Jim Stamas to require the U.S. Air Force to fix the water safety problem they caused near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base.

“The federal government caused this problem and they need to fix it,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “The Air Force has said that they would fix it if the state required them to do so. The passage of this legislation is the next step in holding the federal government to their word and forcing them to pay for contaminating the water of dozens of Oscoda families.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Air Force and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) sent homeowners near the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base letters concerning well water tests that indicated perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) were present in their water, although the levels for two PFCs were lower than the Environmental Protection Agency values.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) followed up with a letter stating it could not predict who may be affected. As a precautionary measure, it recommended that the residents whose wells were tested avoid drinking their well water or using it for cooking.

Senate Bill 950 would require the U.S. Armed Forces responsible for a military base to connect homeowners near a base to a safe, community water system if the DHHS has issued a drinking water advisory for the area and the U.S. Armed Forces acknowledges that the subject of the advisory migrated from a military base and is present in the groundwater.

“We need to do everything we can to ensure that affected homeowners have access to safe water for their families,” Stamas said. “This legislation is designed to hold the federal government accountable and ensure that it covers the costs of supplying safe water to residents whose well water it contaminated.”

Stamas encouraged impacted homeowners to come out to an Oct. 25 public meeting and open house hosted by DHHS to learn more about the contamination and talk with officials.

The community meeting will take place at 6 p.m. at the Oscoda United Methodist Church, located at 120 W. Dwight Ave. in Oscoda. Representatives from the DHHS, District Health Department No. 2, the DEQ and the U.S. Air Force will have formal presentations during the meeting and will be on hand for one-on-one conversations during an open house from 2 to 4 p.m.

SB 950 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.