Butler Twp., county address PFAS water contamination in residents’ wells

BUTLER TWP. — Butler Twp. is teaming up with Montgomery County to address so-called forever chemicals discovered in drinking water from Aullwood Farm Discovery Center.

Township Administrator Erika Vogel said the goals are to ensure all residents in that area have the ability to test their wells, to further analyze the extent of the contamination, and to develop a cohesive response for impacted residents.

As part of the agreement between the township and the county, a consultant will be hired to conduct additional testing in the affected area, according to Matt Hilliard, director of environmental services for Montgomery County.

“Montgomery County is taking the role as a ‘technical advisor’ in this project,” Hilliard said. “We are hiring a consultant to sample residential wells, test the samples, and help communicate results back to residents. It will be up to Butler Twp. to make the final decision on how to proceed with delivering residents clean water.”

In October 2020, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency discovered levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances ― or PFAS ― in Aullwood’s drinking water system. The center is located at 9101 Frederick Pike between the city of Englewood on the west and Dayton International Airport to the east.

A citizen advisory was issued by the Ohio Department of Health to all residents within the affected area.

Butler Twp. has allocated about $409,000 of its $820,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to go toward contracted services to evaluate and analyze the extent of the contamination in private wells near Aullwood Farm, Vogel said in January.

As part of the agreement, Montgomery County will pay for the hiring of the consultant, however, Butler Twp. will reimburse the county for the testing portion only, Hilliard said. The total cost for the consultant and testing has yet to be determined.

According to Vogel, under the consultant contract, properties within the recommended well-testing area, as identified by Ohio Department of Health’s Investigation Area Map, will be offered free testing.

The county will assist the township in technical support, the use of geographical information system capabilities to map various data information, engineering, and communications, according to the agreement.

Along with sampling and testing of the water sources, the consultant will be responsible for helping residents make educated decisions about their drinking water, Vogel said. Those residents whose wells are found to have unsafe levels of PFAS chemicals can expect to receive information regarding next steps, including education, long-term treatment system options, or other potable water sources.

According to Vogel, the Ohio EPA provided funding to the city of Union to install a new water line down Martindale Road and Frederick Pike. The $3 million project, completed in December 2021, was a partnership between Union, Aullwood, Montgomery County and the Ohio EPA. The Ohio EPA paid for $1.7 million of the project, with Union responsible for the remaining $1.3 million.

Butler Twp. is offering to pay tap-in fees charged by Union for residents who are close enough to the line and wish to access it, Vogel said. The line goes from East Martindale Road to Frederick Pike, along South Frederick Pike and under U.S. 40 to Aullwood.

The Ohio EPA started testing the state’s 1,553 public drinking water systems at the beginning of 2020 as part of its PFAS action plan, which was developed in 2019. It was during the testing process that the agency discovered the PFAS at Aullwood Farms.

Exposure to PFAS may affect pregnancy, increase cholesterol levels and cause some forms of cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infants and children, pregnant and nursing women, and those who have a compromised immune system might be at a higher risk of health effects from PFAS exposure, health officials have said.

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