Scientific Study Results

In response to years of groundwater-related issues from residents, well drillers, and farmers, and a projected increase in groundwater usage, in 2012 the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners hired Michigan State University to conduct a two-part groundwater study.

Phase I, completed in 2013, validated the anecdotal reports: water levels in the deep bedrock aquifer system have been declining for 20 years, and in certain areas, sodium chloride (salt) levels are rising above recommended standards.

The Phase II study which assessed how the groundwater supply could be impacted in the future, was completed in March 2018. Phase II demonstrated parts of the aquifer will continue to decline, and sodium chloride levels will continue to increase if proactive steps were not taken to manage withdrawal rates.

Explanation of Key Concepts

To make it easier to understand the terms and concepts related to Ottawa County’s unique groundwater challenges and MSU’s groundwater study, we have provided a geologic and hydrologic “key concepts” guide below.