ONTONAGON COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – Months after the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) ordered the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to stop access to an unregulated water supply, efforts are set to resume searching for the source.

According to the DNR, personnel will soon be able to continue their investigation into the water supply near a roadside access point in Greenland Township. Efforts will be concentrated in the area of Bill Nichols Rail-Trail, off M-38 at the former site of Lake Mine, a historic mining community.

The water has been used for drinking water and other needs for decades but the source is unknown and hasn’t been inspected. EGLE needs to know where the water is coming fromt to be up to have it licensed as a public water supply under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

EGLE ordered the DNR to shut down access to the site in December. The DNR also had to remove access to flowing water from a trailside access point.

“To date, all efforts to identify and locate the source, presumed to be on state forest land (administered by the DNR), have been unsuccessful and, despite explicit signage directing people not to drink the water, the public continues to use water for consumption and other household purposes,” the order stated.

A February deadline in the order from EGLE has been extended to June, so the DNR can continue looking for the source of the water.

On April 11, DNR and EGLE representatives met with state lawmakers and county and township officials to coordinate efforts.

“We will begin our on-site investigation as soon as the snow melts and springtime conditions improve,” said Tom Seablom, DNR western Upper Peninsula district manager for the DNR’s Forest Resources Division. “With the recent warm-up that the U.P. experienced, we will likely be able to start our work at the beginning of May.”

Part of the challenge for officials in locating the source is that the unregulated water system appears to have nearly a mile of water line under an old railroad grade. The condition of the piping is unknown.

“If the source well construction is verified it will help determine if the well can be used in its current condition, can be modified to meet well construction standards or will need to be plugged and abandoned,” said Eric Oswald, district supervisor for EGLE’s Drinking Water and Environmental Health Division in Lansing.

Initial investigations points to a borehole from mining efforts created a spring which then became a water source. If the well isn’t properly constructed and the water source protected, the water would either need to be treated or the site would have to be abandoned.

Another coordination meeting is scheduled for later this month.