Feb 25, 2019

Allendale Township, Mich., Bans Wells at New Developments

The new ban requires developments to connect to municipal lines rather than using well water

Michigan township bans well water at new developments
Michigan township bans well water at new developments

Allendale Township, Mich., voted to require new developments to connect to municipal water lines instead of using well water. The new rule is in response to a study by Michigan State University researchers that found sinking groundwater levels.

The study investigates the Marshall Formation aquifer that feeds 3,000 private household wells in central Ottawa County. The team ultimately found that the aquifer has dropped 40 ft in more than 40 years, with a thick layer of clay on top that prevents water from returning to the aquifer below, reported local news source Wood TV.

“We know we’re drawing out faster than we’re replenishing," said Township Supervisor Adam Elenbass. "But we don’t know that there’s a specific date at which point the wells are going to run dry. Rather than waiting until an emergency happens and we have to run water to remote locations in an emergency situation we’re planning for that now. We’re being proactive.”

According to local news source ABC 13, the township has faced water scarcity more than a decade ago when some developments saw wells run dry and farmers had elevated levels of sodium chloride in their drinking water. Elevated levels of sodium chloride found in the deep bedrock aquifer supply also can threaten local crops and plumbing systems.

Moving forward, Ottawa County plans to release a Solutions and Strategies Guidebook for Groundwater Management to advice townships on water conservation and management. The book will be released in the spring.

“There need to be a variety of techniques and tactics with a challenge of this magnitude,” said Paul Sachs, director of planning and performance improvement for Ottawa County. “[We are also] educating the people about the need for water concentration. Even though we live in the Great Lakes State…our water is not limitless.”