March 22 is World Water Day; tracking the Ann Arbor dioxane plume toward the Huron River

March 22 is World Water Day. The 2011 theme is Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge. The Ann Arbor District Library is hosting a 7:00 p.m. panel "Our Water, Our Future", with Mike Wiley from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment hosting.

A recording of the event is available for viewing or download at the Ann Abor District Library.

In Ann Arbor, the slow-moving but inexorable urban water supply problem is the spread of a dioxane plume towards the Huron River and the City of Ann Arbor's drinking water supply source at Barton Pond. The map below shows the newly expanded zone in which wells are prohibited in Ann Arbor because of this plume, which originated at the former Gelman Sciences facility on Wagner Road in Scio Township. Pall Life Sciences now operates the cleanup at this facility; it's part of Pall Corporation (NYSE: PLL).


Monitoring wells are tracking the spread of the plume. Scio Residents for Safe Water is monitoring the monitoring operation, and Roger Rayle has produced a series of maps illustrating the issues. This image depicts contamination levels as measured with 2009 data.

image from

The contamination began in the 1960s, when medical filter manufacturer Gelman Sciences began pumping industrial wastewater into lagoons on the site on Wagner Road. Cleanup began in the 1980s. Many details, including legal agreements and monitoring data, are found at the Michigan DEQ Gelman Sciences information page.

Previously: Goodspeed Update (2004);  Dioxane plume FAQ (2006); Scio Residents for Safe Water (2008); "Concerns raised over dioxane cleanup", Ann Arbor Chronicle (2009).

Edward Vielmetti writes the Vacuum weblog, since 1999.

Editor's note: link to video recording of panel added 3/25/11.


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