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Spring Lake Rotary Scribes Report: February 28, 2020
 
 
Ottawa County Ground Water Issues
               
                David Rhem shared with the club that his father, Richard (85) passed away the previous Sunday, February 23rd.  Richard was a long-time member of the Rotary Club of Spring Lake through the ‘80s and ‘90s.   The family will hold a celebration of life for Rev. Rhem will be held at the Spring Lake Country Club on Sunday, March 1 at 1pm and all Rotarians are welcome to attend. 
 
                Dave Stocking gave the news that after several months of testing to with doctors across the state, he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.  Dave and his doctors have an action plan to begin addressing that and he is positive about the future. 
 
                Vicki Coulsen announced an upcoming Euchre Tournament fundraiser for the Tri-Cities Area Habitat for Humanity called “A Hand for Habitat”.  The event takes place on Friday, March 14 from 2pm-6pm at the GH Elks Lodge.
 
                Our speaker on Friday was Paul Sachs, Planning & Performance Improvement Director for Ottawa County.  Paul gave us a breakdown on the main issues in our county with groundwater depletion.  The Marshall Sandstone Formation is a deep-bedrock aquifer found about 75-150 feet below the ground’s surface from which Ottawa County receives most of its well water.  Ottawa County has a challenge with overuse of the aquifer systems, causing them to run low, even with surface water levels at all-time highs very recently.  Ottawa County is the fastest growing county in the state for more multiple decades, meaning that more people are accessing our aquifers through use of wells for residential, agricultural and corporate use.  Ottawa County is the 3rd highest agriculture producing counties in the state.  In recent years, there have been reports from farmers and residents about wells running out of water, or of crops being killed by the water that is pulled from the well.  The issue there is that the wells that are used by most residential and agricultural consumers are pulling water from the Marshall formation that is ancient, glacial water, with a high concentration of sea salt that has been sitting at the bottom of that formation.  When the Marshall formation is drawn down, the salt and brine is pulled to the top from the bed of that formation by the force of those wells.  This sodium chloride that is brought to the surface is 9 times saltier than the ocean, so it will kill crops when used to irrigate them.
 
                Contrary to popular belief, Lake Michigan does not connect to our bedrock aquifer system where the wells pull from, as there is a bedrock barrier between the two.  Most of the “straws” that wells use to pull the water from underground are pulling from the bedrock aquifer, which has a finite supply that is being rapidly drawn down.  Those that use city water that live along the lakeshore in Ottawa County are indeed pulling from Lake Michigan for that city water supply.  The areas that are in the center of Ottawa County that are more rural do not have the same type of infrastructure available to be able to pull from the Lake Michigan water supply, so they are dependent on well water primarily.  The middle of our county is using so much of the Marshall Sandstone formation that it has experienced a 40-foot drop in the water level of that aquifer over the past few years.  Projections for continued high growth of populations in Ottawa County over the next 15-20 years show a big issue with Marshall Sandstone depletion, mainly from the central area of the county.  Allendale, Olive, Robinson and Blendon townships, all located in the central part of the county, are among the municipalities that are most affected.  
 
                In October 2019, the county launched its Groundwater Sustainability Initiative, which aims to educate county residents of all ages on water conservancy and other general groundwater practices.  One potential solution is to recharge the aquifers.  An MSU study shows some pockets of the clay that covers the Marshall that have cracks or gaps where groundwater/rainwater could be used to recharge the formation over time.  Land use and planning is another way to address the issues with water depletion – limitation of agriculture or well placement in areas where there is overuse of the groundwater supply already.  Building and site development should also be a focus to prevent overcrowding and dependence on water that will or has already been depleted.  Water recycling will become a way of life for people around the world, and the main way that we address the problem of groundwater depletion.  Outreach and education are key to the recycling initiative and have been underway for several months. 
 
 
50/50 Winner:  Kevin Green
 
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May 10
 
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Lori
May 14
 
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May 28
 
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May 31
 
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May 18, 2015
5 years
 
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May 31, 2013
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May 31, 1996
24 years
 
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