State Rep. Bradley Slagh today announced that the final state budget approved by the Legislature Wednesday will include more than $1.1 million to address the growing groundwater shortage problem in Ottawa County.
Over the past few decades, local reports of wells drying up and groundwater becoming saltier have increased in frequency. In 2018, Michigan State University’s Institute of Water Research conducted a two-part study outlining the nature of the issues and concluded that they are the result of two primary factors. The first factor identified was increased demand on groundwater due to a high rate of development, particularly in the central portion of the county, as Ottawa County has long been the fastest growing county in the state. The second was a large, continuous layer of impermeable clay sitting above the bedrock aquifer, which prevents it from recharging normally.
“As Ottawa County’s population has grown over the years, the groundwater supply has dwindled,” said Slagh, of Zeeland. “Our proximity to Lake Michigan makes it hard to believe a water shortage in our area could be possible, but it is a very real concern that must be addressed before it’s too late.”
The county must implement a robust and comprehensive monitoring network to collect and analyze data needed to support the development of effective and sound policy aimed at ensuring current and future generations of residents have sustainable access to clean water. Because continued population growth and groundwater use are inevitable, timing is critical to design, install, and deploy a real-time monitoring network.
Slagh has been advocating to prioritize state funding for the monitoring network, which the county anticipated would cost nearly $1 million. The request was granted in the finalized state budget approved by the Legislature on Wednesday.
“This funding will relieve Ottawa County of the burdensome costs associated with design, installation and analysis of the monitoring network,” Slagh said. “I’m pleased we were able to secure this investment in the future of our local water system.”
The budget plan for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Legislature and now moves to the governor’s desk for her expected signature.