By Paul J. Sniadecki, MLSA Board Director
We all know how important it is to protect Michigan’s water. As a riparian, you can view it by looking out your window. What about water you cannot see everyday? What about the water supply used with extensive crop irrigation? What about contaminated ground water (e.g. PFAS) and its potential to spread? What about your well water?
Until recently, Michigan did not invest in geological mapping to provide scientific data that can develop answers to such important questions. Other nearby states have been mapping for years and have most of the answers they need. The good news is the recently enacted 2023-2024 State Budget now allocates approximately $3 million for Michigan to, hopefully, catch up relative to where other states are.
The importance of the relationship between ground water and geology was a topic at the 2023 MLSA Annual Conference. John Yellich, CPG, and Director of the Michigan Geological Survey entity presented a session titled; Michigan Water, what is known and needed after years of nothing! Ottawa and Cass Counties examples by the Michigan Geological Survey.
Session attendees were surprised to learn about the following state-by-state support for geological mapping:
- Michigan: no dedicated funds in 25 years, not until 2014, $44,000 to support mapping in Cass County, < 10% mapped. ($1.751 M = $72.9 K/yr).
- Illinois: mapping in high impact and use areas, many priority areas for 3D mapping, ~ 30% mapped. ($4.987M=$207.8 K/yr).
- Indiana: mapping in high impact areas, some priority 3D mapping, ~ 40% mapped. ($4.276M=$178.2 K/yr).
- Ohio: funding from energy and minerals, geo-hazards for mapping in addition to Fed funds ~80% mapped ($3.069 M=$127.9 K/yr).
- Wisconsin: mapping impact areas, $3.762 M =$156.7k/ year.
- Minnesota: mapping impact areas, $2.834 M =$118.3k/year.
Director Yellich also presented findings from his past work, which was done with funding limited to two counties. He showed that with proper geological surveys, Michigan finally had the truth about water resources in Cass and Ottawa Counties. Cass County was considered an area of water concern, while Ottawa County was believed to have abundant ground water. After the work of the Michigan Geological Survey group, the scientific data proved that just the opposite was true. So, it appears the Michigan Legislature has wisely allocated approximately $3 million for enhanced protections for Michigan water.
The whole field of ground water and geology is much too broad and technical to be covered by a newsletter article. MLSA will work with Director Yellich over the next year to develop an appropriate series of articles for The Michigan Riparian magazine. Stay tuned!