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Re: E-M:/ Lake levels/wells



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Enviro-Mich message from Tobler <wtobler@tdi.net>
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I will look forward to seeing what you publish in your newsletter.  I would also be
very interested in seeing scientifically supported data along with the opinions.
Can you make this newsletter available on the web, perhaps as a pdf file?
Three months ago, I attended the SEMI meeting (South East Michigan Environmental
Initiative).  This is a bimonthly meeting hosted by SEMCOG and the USEPA, typically
held at the SEMCOG offices in Detroit.  One of the speakers was the Commander of the
Detroit branch of the US Coast Guard.  In his discussion, he brought up the issue of
the "low" lake and river levels and the environmental concerns associated with them.

Part of the environmental concern, which is real, is that the ever larger freighters
that now frequent the waterways need deeper waters so that their prop wash does not
stir up the mucks, which may have 50 years of toxic sludge buried within.  Of
course, the businesses associated with the freighters are demanding dredging and
deepening of the waterways, at taxpayer expense, and with the associated
environmental issues.
The surprising part of the presentation is that the lake and river levels are NOT
low, but are merely returning to "normal" values from abnormally high values that
have persisted for the last 10 or 20 years.  The statement was made that lake levels
are still above "normal" levels established from the historical data.
After the meeting, I asked the Commander if he knew of the reason for the "low" lake
levels.  He said that it had been reported that this resulted from low snowfalls and
precipitation in recent years.  I challenged this statement because the
precipitation levels reported for the Ann Arbor areas have hardly been "drought"
numbers, excluding the last 3 months.  Last year, the total precipitation was only a
fraction of an inch below "normal", and the previous two years, at least, were
significantly above normal.
Obviously, this doesn't account for the precipitation that may have occurred around
the perimeters of the Great Lakes, and I don't know those numbers.  I just recently
saw a scientific article from an Israeli source which reported that local
precipitation was significantly reduced by air pollution and airborne particulate
material, which certainly is a Michigan problem that Mr. Engler would pretend
doesn't exist.  I don't know the answers, nor have the data at my fingertips.  It
would be a real pleasure to see some carefully reported science for a change.

In my own community in SE Washtenaw and NW Monroe Counties, it is no mystery that
the "unregulated" quarry business is sucking us dry.  Within a few miles of each
other, we have two limestone quarries which remove about 15 million gallons of water
each day from the aquifers.  This is about 60 times the residential requirements of
an entire rural township.  I still have township officials (deep in the pockets of
the quarries) try to explain to me that those five private residences next to the
quarry are tapping into the same aquifer, and obviously they are the cause!  The
measured levels of the water within the drinking wells match precisely in time with
the pumping habits of the quarries.  Simulaneously, we have the drying of massive
amounts of wetlands, as the traditionally perched water tables fail.
This certainly does not explain the issues seen in other communities, but I have yet
to see any "engineering" explanation that cannot be refuted in about 30 seconds for
our local problems.   In our case, the water table levels have dropped about  40
feet in the past 5 years and are continuing a rapid descent with no signs of
abatement.
And no one in the state government cares!

Kristine Yvette Olsson wrote:

> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Enviro-Mich message from Kristine Yvette Olsson <olssonk@umich.edu>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> We are also getting some calls asking about low lake and river levels.  We
> are going to be writing and article on it, actually, for our next
> newsletter.  We would like to address why levels are low (cyclic droughts?
> Global warming? Development paving over groundwater recharge areas) and
> what, if anything people should or should not do about it.
>
> So, I would also like to know any answers people might have for Bonnie,
> and would also be happy to forward anything we find out...
> Kris Olsson
> Huron River Watershed Council
>
> Regarding your question:  My initial thought is that, since the lakes are
> probably mostly
> groundwater fed, pumping groundwater into them won't really help.  Unless
> the wells are tapping a deeper aquifer.  I'm not sure about the affect
> that might have on surrounding residential wells.  It would probably take
> alot of pumping to deplete the aquifer, but it would totally depend on the
> specific size of that aquifer.  In Michigan, we haven't really mapped or
> delineated our aquifers.
>
>  On Tue, 28 Mar
> 2000, Michelle Gesmundo wrote:
>
> > -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > Enviro-Mich message from Michelle Gesmundo <gesmundm@msue.msu.edu>
> > -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > At 04:30 PM 03/27/2000 -0500, Bonnie Shupe wrote:
> > >-------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > >Enviro-Mich message from "Bonnie Shupe" <BONNIES@cannontwp.org>
> > >-------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > >
> > >In the last week, two lake association presidents have visited my office
> > inquiring about raising their lake levels by putting in a well.  The lakes
> > are getting so shallow that boats are hitting bottom.  One of the lakes is
> > man-made and already has two wells.  They plan on adding a third.  The
> > other is a natural, spring-fed lake, but is going down more every year.
> > >
> > >Do any of you know anything about what affects these wells can have on the
> > acquifer?  In these kind of drought years we're having, is there any danger
> > of homeowners' wells going dry because of these large lake wells?  Are
> > there any other environmental hazards that can occur?
> > >Bonnie Shupe, Cannon Township
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >
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