1:12 Minute Read.
I live in Rockford. Have friends in Rockford. Send my son to Rockford schools. So, the news about water safety in the Rockford area hits close to home. As an agent who loves to promote my hometown, I needed a tool to help buyers and sellers talk about the topic in an open, honest way.
For those unfamiliar with the problem, one of our favorite local companies, Wolverine Worldwide used Scotchgard in their shoe manufacturing process. Excess product was discarded in local dumpsites around the Rockford area. Decades later, we learned those chemicals, containing PFAS which is a likely cancer causing contaminate, have leached into the water aquifer.
“More – rather than less disclosure –
Is always better in the long run.”
There's a lot of talk about this problem. Here’s a couple things we learned along the way…
1) The Michigan DEQ doesn’t have answers to some of the most basic questions. You’d expect them to have competent employees familiar with Rockford’s problem. Not the case. Callers complain the DEQ has uninformed staff answering the phone who cannot transfer to anyone more knowledgeable. As one person said, if there was valuable oil underground, I bet everyone would know the details.
2) Apparently Wolverine’s testing consultant Rose & Westra is doing the sampling for the PFAS “buffer zone” areas in Rockford. Fleis & VandenBrink or Gordon Water Systems will do sampling in areas outside the buffer zone.
3) A water test may not be enough to determine safety. One homeowner in the affected area said their tester openly admitted that any water test is only a snapshot of the current level of PFAS. There is no guarantee of avoiding future problems. And the only way to determine the history of PFAS levels may be a blood test of individuals living in the home.
4) One important note - no one is saying all the details have been made public. More (and many more) details may come to light as this story develops.
And yet clients are asking us…
Is it safe to buy a home in Rockford?
Will this problem affect housing values in either the short or long term?
The honest answer is, I don’t know.
In our office, we’re encouraging agents to initiate the conversation with clients and ask for disclosure of known facts.
Here is a copy of our Water Safety Disclosure. No disclosure is perfect. This is only intended to raise the topic and answer questions most buyers are asking.