Well contamination issues in Escanaba Township

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ESCANABA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLUC) - Several residents in the Escanaba Township area have had serious issues with well water contamination at their homes since late March.

Those affected are looking for answers as to what's causing the foul smell and discoloration.

A resident of Escanaba Township asks, "Now what would you do if you tested (positive) for E. coli in your drinking water?"

Thankfully, that's a question that most of us never have to deal with but over a dozen families in the Escanaba Township area have had to answer those types of questions since the end of March when their wells were discovered to be inexplicably contaminated with fecal matter, E. coli and other bacterial growth.

Novalene Bovin and her husband Warren have been living on bottled water since March 29.

"The chemical smell that was coming out our faucets was just horrible. It smelled just like what they put out on our back 40," said Bovin.

Area residents are getting frustrated as they say that they have sought help from authorities, but nothing has come of it.

Erkki Peippo has tried talking with multiple agencies and feels like he is getting the runaround.

"I personally have reached out to the health department, Michigan Department of Agriculture, D.E.Q.. Several different agencies and have received really no benefit," said Peippo.

According to Peippo, those agencies have identified some possible causes of the water issues.

"They keep talking about septic tanks," he said. "Possible bad septic systems and things like that. But I guess that argument might means that everyone out in Flat Rock's septic fields failed at the same time."

But then there is the potential cause that is the favorite theory among those whose wells are affected.

It's called it Versogrow, and it's a recycled byproduct of the paper making process. The product is provided by Verso to area farmers to act as a soil amendment.

This is the second year that Versogrow has been applied locally, and last year there were no reported issues.

Pam Lauscher is a Verso spokesperson. She attended an Escanaba Township meeting Monday night where concerns were discussed.

"Well, what I can tell you is that Verso takes environmental regulations and environmental sustainability very seriously," said Lauscher. "We do not believe that any of our products are causing any of the concerns that have been generated."

Verso representatives have said that the company is suspending the use of Versogow in the area.

TV6 will bring you more as this story develops.

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