February 3rd, 2020

In 2018, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality filed a lawsuit against Wolverine Worldwide. The lawsuit stated that the company contaminated residential drinking water wells by using and discarding PFAS containing materials. PFAS is a harmful manmade chemical that causes several serious health effects such as liver damage and increased likelihood of cancers. After an incredibly swift and successful period of negotiation, the State of Michigan and two local governments reached a tentative settlement with footwear company Wolverine World Wide that provides a solution for approximately 1,500 homes with PFAS in their drinking water. The company has agreed to pay $69.5 million for new municipal water mains and filtration systems while also agreeing to maintain home water filters until homes are able to be connected to municipal water sources.

Construction will start in the spring of 2020 with new pipes for private wells that were contaminated with high PFAS levels. “Reaching a tentative agreement with Wolverine is an important step that moves us closer to our ultimate goal of ensuring that every Michigan resident has access to clean, safe drinking water,” said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessell in a statement. These new systems will take approximately five years to reach a portion of the homes affected. Unfortunately, the systems will not reach every one of these households. Priority will be given to neighborhoods with the highest levels of contamination. The deal covers comprehensive remediation along the former tannery site and includes more studies and monitoring of the area.

The final binding agreement required approval by a judge which was granted by Judge Janet Neff to allow the project to begin. We appreciate the AG’s assistance with helping facilitate this agreement, and in particular the speed at which her team was able to find a positive resolution for the impacted community.