Development held up over water supply concerns

Ottawa County

OLIVE TOWNSHIP, Mich., (WOOD) — Municipalities in Ottawa County are working to find new sources of water as problems with drinking wells continue to advance.

Paul Sachs, Ottawa County’s director of planning and performance improvement, says officials first discovered quality and quantity issues with their water in 2008.

“There were a few housing subdivisions in Allendale Township that were all well-dependent buildings and homeowners woke up in the morning and their wells were dry, no water coming out of their faucet,” Sachs said.

There were also reports from farmers after their crops burnt out due to water with high chloride levels.

Following the discovery, the county received money from the state to investigate the issue.

Michigan State University conducted a seven-year study that was later released in 2018. They found a layer of clay and unique geology in the area were preventing the aquifer formation from replenishing the wells.

“We’re running out of water. We’re basically pumping more water out of the deep aquifer formation than can be recharged back into that system,” Sachs said.

Sachs says the problem is now affecting Blendon Township, Robinson Township and Olive Township.

As a result, Olive Township put a moratorium on any new developments as officials study the best sources for water going forward.

The county says because Olive Township is such a rural area, new developments would not have the ability to use municipal water instead.

“We still want to allow growth to happen, but we don’t want to put more stress on the aquifer system,” Sachs said.

Sachs says he plans to present some ideas in October, but this will likely be something the county will deal with for the next several years.

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