Lt. Gov. Brian Calley declared a state of emergency Sunday for Kalamazoo County due to the ongoing health and safety concerns due to per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) contamination in the drinking water for the city of Parchment and Cooper Township.
“This declaration will allow the state to supply additional resources to help with response efforts and ensure the health and safety of residents in Parchment and Cooper Township,” Calley said. “State and local officials and members of the community have been working in full partnership to ensure people in the area have safe water in the short, medium and long term.
“The level of cooperation and teamwork has been excellent and the entire community should be proud of how Kalamazoo County has come together during this trying time.”
By declaring a state of emergency, Calley has made available all state resources in cooperation with local response and recovery operations. The declaration authorizes the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) to coordinate state efforts.
Problems with the water were discovered on Thursday, July 26, when test results showed the municipal water system in Parchment — which serves approximately 3,100 residents in Parchment and Cooper Township — had an unacceptable level of the nationally emerging contaminants known collectively as PFAS. The testing was conducted as part of Gov. Rick Snyder’s unprecedented and proactive effort to test all water systems for these chemicals, which are starting to emerge in many states across the nation and raising public health concerns.
“I have instructed my staff to continue to collaborate with our local emergency management partners in Kalamazoo County and state, city and county leaders to coordinate relief efforts,” said Capt. Emmitt McGowan, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, and commander of MSP/EMHSD. “We are working diligently to make sure all available resources are provided to help residents.”
On Friday, July 27, Kalamazoo County declared a “local state of emergency,” which activated local emergency response and recovery plans. On Saturday, July 28, the county asked the state for a declaration. By requesting a governor’s declaration, the county has determined local resources are insufficient to address the situation and state assistance is required to protect public health, safety and property to lessen or avert the threat of a crisis.
In addition to the emergency declaration, Calley fully activated the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC). Located at MSP Headquarters in Dimondale, the center is overseen by the MSP/EMHSD and coordinates response and recovery efforts by state agencies and local government. The SEOC is staffed by members of state agencies and other partners for decision making and information coordination during disasters or emergencies in the state of Michigan.
Article V Section 26 of the Michigan Constitution gives authority for the lieutenant governor to act as governor when the governor is out of state.