Officials seeking support from local government for water issues

HARRISVILLE — With the ongoing water pollution issue taking place in Oscoda Township, Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport officials are seeking support from other municipalities to ask the U.S. Air Force and federal government to clean up the mess.

Wednesday Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport Authority Chairman Kevin Boyat asked the Alcona County Board of Commissioners during a meeting to support a resolution asking for a cleanup.

Boyat said the move was to help residents and increase business on the former military installation, which provides jobs for Iosco and Alcona residents.

“There are a lot of people who are concerned about it, and we have a lot of businesses on the base,” Boyat said. “And trying to get more businesses in the community you don’t want to advertise that you have bad water, so we need as much help as we can get.”

Last year a segment of the community had to find alternative water sources because of the presence of elevated perfluorinated chemicals in the groundwater. The source was from fire retardant chemicals used by the Air Force on the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base, which is now operated as the Oscoda-Wurtsmith Airport.

As residents seek alternative water sources in the form of municipal water hookups, reverse osmosis systems or water bottle systems, local authorities have been asking the government to fix the issue.

Boyat said the authority decided to create a resolution to send to the state and the federal government to fix the issue.

“We want to send it to you to ask for your support to ask the state and the federal government to show that the Air Force should be responsible,” he said.

Boyat said because Alcona County has townships adjacent to contamination areas in Iosco County, he wanted the county to support a cleanup.

“There is a real problem down there,” Boyat said. “What if one of the (aquafers) comes into Alcona County? One expert said ‘We don’t know where they go.’ We don’t know if they would get that far.”

Chairman Craig Johnston said he received a copy of the resolution, but did not have time to disseminate it to the rest of the board.

He said having previously served on District Health Department No. 2, along with Commissioner Kathleen Vichunas, he did not think the Air Force would willingly pay anything for a cleanup on the former facility.

Johnston said he would give the resolution to the other commissioners and consider the resolution during an upcoming meeting.

Vichunas, who is chair of the DHD No. 2 Board of Directors, said there will be an upcoming public meeting April 25 in Oscoda concerning the water contamination.

Vichunas said a state biologist is scheduled to be at the meeting to discuss the issue.

Boyat said the resolution is being given to Iosco County townships and other municipalities for support. He said it may be given to Alcona County townships as well.

Jason Ogden can be reached via email at jogden@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Jason on Twitter @jo_alpenanews.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today