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Ottawa County Groundwater Sustainability Initiative

Ottawa County is the fastest growing county in Michigan. It is also one of the most agriculturally diverse and productive counties in the State, and nationally. As the County’s population continues to grow and its agricultural industry flourishes into the future, access to abundant, fresh water is essential.

Over the last decade, Ottawa County residents and businesses have experienced issues related to groundwater, including reports of diminishing capacity and the presence of elevated levels of sodium chloride in some water wells. In light of these issues, Michigan State University (MSU) was hired to conduct a comprehensive groundwater study for Ottawa County. This study confirmed the anecdotal reports: water levels in the deep bedrock aquifer system have been gradually declining over the last 20 years and, in certain areas of the County, sodium chloride levels in the bedrock aquifer are rising above recommended standards for drinking water and agricultural irrigation.

By applying the science from MSU’s groundwater study, consulting with geological and water resource experts, and engaging stakeholders within our local communities, Ottawa County has developed a proactive strategies index that outlines preservation initiatives for protecting our groundwater. The index features educational outreach materials, water conservation strategies, land use planning techniques, and green infrastructure practices that are crucial in ensuring the long-term sustainability of our valuable water resources.