Thursday, Jul 28, 2016
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Michigan

Monroe County groundwater testing in works

The Michigan legislature decided last month to allocate $150,000 of the state Department of Environmental Quality budget for groundwater testing in Monroe County.

The study will focus on discovering how drawing water for use at local quarries affects groundwater movement and quality.

There are 12 stone quarries in and around Monroe County, said Peter Wills. He is a legislative aid to State Rep. Gene DeRossett (R., Manchester), who supported the study's funding.

“There's a number of folks in the area that believe the water being sucked out for use at the quarries ... is potentially impacting the water table and residents,” Mr. Wills said.

“The thought was that if we got this money, we might be able to give residents answers to some of these questions that have been lingering.”

The study will be coordinated by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey station in Lansing.

Plans for the study are still in a “very preliminary stage,” said Elgar Brown, chief of the department's groundwater supply section.

“We need to limit the study's scope,” Mr. Brown said. “It's a very complex situation which is very expensive to study.”

The wide variety of geologic features around the area means that the county's groundwater flow is “virtually impossible to model” on a large scale, Mr. Brown said.

But he said the study may aid in understanding groundwater movement in several small areas.

The analysis, which could last two or three years, will likely begin by studying existing wells in London Township, Mr. Wills said.

The study will probably start in October, said Jim Nicholas, district chief of the Lansing station.

“It's something we're going to have to get on pretty quick,” he said.

The study might also give clues to solving issues of poor water quality in the county, Mr. Wills said. County residents have been worried for several years about private well water containing sulfur, a toxic element.

In portions of Summerfield, Dundee, Ida, Raisinville, London, Exeter, and Berlin townships, groundwater carries concentrations of sulfur that are 12 times the safe limit for drinking water.

In March, the Monroe County Commissioners amended the county's sanitary code to allow homeowners with sulfurous water to have their drinking water trucked in. The commissioners procured special permission from the MDEQ to pass the amendment.

Mr. DeRossett and Sen. Beverly Hammerstrom (R., Temperance) advocated funding the groundwater study.

“This study will help us better understand groundwater use and can serve as a model for other areas,” Mr. DeRosett said in a press release.

“It is an essential health concern and one deserving full state and federal support.”

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