Mark Knudsen, director of the county's Planning & Performance Improvement Department, said the issue has gained the attention of county commissioners.
“After their strategic planning session, they decided that they wanted to appoint a groundwater task force,” he said. “I think this is going to be the final hurdle to overcome before moving forward.”
Results of the study will be used to help determine public policy issues regarding water resources, said Commissioner Roger Bergman of Grand Haven.
Knudsen said he expects action taken soon on the task force development.
“I would say it would be in the next 2-4 weeks,” he said. “I think (the Board of Commissioners) want to oversee the study and the solutions that will come from it.”
The proposed study follows one conducted by Michigan State University that shows Ottawa County's major groundwater source — the Marshall aquifer — is drying up.
The Marshall sandstone is one of two aquifer sources in the county. It resembles a ring centered in the middle of Michigan's Lower Peninsula.
According to the MSU study, a thick, compact, clay-like shell around the county makes it tough for water to recharge the aquifer as people take from it.
“Some of the issues that preceded the study were the subdivisions that went dry in 2007,” Knudsen said. “In 2010, we started phase one and finished it up in 2013.”
While Knudsen noted that things could change based on the task force’s recommendations, the new study would look at the entire groundwater system for the county. The only areas that wouldn’t be studied would be urban areas such as the Tri-Cities and Holland/Zeeland.
“There will be test wells in every township, and there will also be some in Allegan, Kent and Muskegon counties to determine the horizontal flow of water to Ottawa County,” Knudsen said.
There have already been funding commitments to allow the study to take place.
To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.