County investigates water woes

It will be just a while longer before Ottawa County officials start the second phase of their water resource study.
Alex Doty
Jan 30, 2014

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.


Former Grandhavenite

I didn't realize that we actually use much in the way of groundwater in Ottawa county. I thought the vast majority of our water comes from the lake. I guess the inland townships near the Kent county line are more reliant on wells compared to the lake shore area.

Say no to new taxes

You think we're having water problems now? Wait till they run a pipeline from the Great Lakes to the West Coast. It's going to happen friends, and within the next 20 years. Fresh water is going to be more valuable then oil within 50 years. We need to take steps to protect our lakes and keep that water where it belongs, right here in the rust belt.

Former Grandhavenite

I recall hearing about a law awhile back that would ban the export of great lakes water outside of the states bordering the lakes. I'm not sure what happened with that, but I think Indiana threw a wrench into a more limited plan that would have been specific to Lake Michigan water exports and wouldn't have needed any federal or Canadian involvement. Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan were on board but Indiana was reluctant as I recall. When you compare the Indiana sections of the shoreline to the other states it looks like an industrial wasteland of steel mills around Gary and Hammond, the oil refinery in Whiting, and a couple power plants and rail yards. The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park is really nice but their entire shoreline outside of the parks is pretty much a mess.

Edit: If we can solve our energy problems, we've essentially also solved our water problems since the oceans can provide all the water the world needs if we find a cheap and clean way to power desalination plants which are quite energy intensive.


This can not happen. Read the Great Lakes St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainability Agreement. This is an International agreement with Canada.


Alex Doty, you now join the ranks of reporters that only report one side of an issue. Congratulations, welcome to the liberal media club!

Former Grandhavenite

Which side of the issue isn't being reported here out of curiosity? To me this seems like a relatively 'dry' (heh) issue without a lot of opportunity for playing politics, but I'd be interested to hear what you think.


This was a preliminary study that was based on Well Logic data proven to be full of errors and omissions. If you attended the meetings, you would have heard a totally different view. Their are a few areas that have been an issue. But that can be found in any county in our state. There is more freshwater here than anywhere in the world. And there is more groundwater than surface water. Do a little research and find some facts.

Robert Hage

Maybe our county and local planning and zoning boards should think about putting a temporary halt to builders request for new subdivisions until the water issue is settled. You don't want to become a state like Nev. Calif, Az. or others that are now scrambling because of water issues tied to Lake Mead and the Colorado river. There are only so many straws you can put into the aquifers.


So just because one guy says there is a problem would should stop selling cars, and food, and ...
Wait until an opposing study is produced. Or come to one of the meetings and hear the other side. The sky isn't falling.

Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on Create a new account today to get started.