Myths and Facts

As we talk with the public about the Little Traverse Bay Environmental Project we have been asked many questions about the history of the property and what we have done to address the problems of the past. In a project this complex it is not surprising that there are occasionally inaccuracies and myths surrounding the current environmental effort. Below are answers to some of the “myths” we hear most often.

Myth: The water that was shipped for disposal is a “toxic brew,” similar to bleach, and has “burned” people swimming in Lake Michigan.
Fact: The limited amount of water that is still being shipped for disposal is classified as non-hazardous because it does not have any characteristics of hazardous waste. Its pH level is about 10 after treatment, which is similar to milk of magnesia, not bleach. There have been no substantiated reports of any person or animal being harmed while swimming in Lake Michigan near the project before the remedies installed by CMS Land.

Myth: The collection lines installed at the project are capturing less than 10 percent of the water.
Fact: While this myth has been routinely repeated, no one has been able to document where it originated or provide any scientific basis to support it. The collection lines were installed to capture water that has a pH reading of 9 or higher. The lines have been very effective with readings now routinely below pH 9.

Myth: "Sweetheart” deals were cut and laws were not followed when redeveloping the brownfield site.
Fact: The basis of this myth seems to be the “Covenant Not to Sue” (CNTS) issued by the state of Michigan for the project. Such legal agreements are routinely put in place to encourage redevelopment of brownfield sites. They are intended to protect innocent buyers from environmental issues that they did not cause – in this case the cement dust left behind – and to return blighted land to productive use rather than developing greenfield space. Without such protection, redevelopment of any brownfield site would be rare or non-existent. An environmental study and reclamation plan was developed and approved by the state and all applicable laws were followed during redevelopment of the site.

Despite the CNTS, CMS Land has committed $250 million to address the environmental issues. What was once described as a “moonscape” has been transformed into two public parks and an award winning community that draws tourists from all over the world to northern Michigan.

Substantial environmental progress has been achieved. CMS Land and the regulatory agencies have approved a plan that will protect the bay now and for future generations.