ONTONAGON COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – Water that has been used for drinking and other needs for decades in Ontonagon County remains the subject of investigation by the Deparment of Natural Resources (DNR).
According to the DNR, the source of the water supplies two homes and an unregulated spigot near a trail in Greenland Township. Recently, a DNR crew found and old wellhead near the Bill Nichols Rail-Trail. It was determined that wellhead fed water to the homes and trailside stop.
The DNR uncovered the wellhead in July. They weren’t able to tell how deep in the ground the vertical pipe traveled, but officials with EGLE said the water supply was likely an artesian flow underground that was drilled into through native clay.
Last week, DNR and EGLE officials met with county and township officials to discuss the latest developments in the investigation.
“We found the wellhead, but we cannot support its continued use,” said Rob Wolfe, EGLE’s district environmental analyst in Ontonagon County. “We are looking for providing a viable option.” Wolfe said the old piping is “too fragile” for continued use. If the pipe were to break, it would be unlikely that it could be repaired.
The DNR has been granted an extension by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) into September to find out if there is a way to keep water available to the public.
The DNR has been ordered by EGLE to disable the trailside spigot and close off public access to the water.
The main option being considered is to dig a new well to service the homes and the trailside water access. A lack of detailed maps of underground water sources is proving a challenge in determining where drilling could occur. The DNR is expected to consult with a well-drilling company.