Hearing set for Michindoh Aquifer status 11.18.2009

Written by David Green.

The EPA’s Region 5 office in Chicago is poised to approve Sole Source Aquifer (SSA) status for the Michindoh Aquifer that underlies both Morenci and Fayette.

The City of Bryan applied for SSA status to help raise awareness of drinking water quality and to help with future planning decisions.

“Clean water is something that’s usually taken for granted,” said Lou Pendleton of Bryan’s utilities department. “The main benefit of SSA is to take what we’ve learned about our aquifer and make others aware of the value.”

The EPA initially scheduled a comment period that ended last week, but it’s now been extended for an indefinite period. Pendleton expects the EPA to issue a final decision following a public hearing in January 2010.

The Safe Drinking Water Act gives EPA the authority to designate an aquifer as the sole source of drinking water for a designated area.

The Michindoh Aquifer includes all of Williams County and portions of Fulton and Defiance counties in Ohio; portions of Lenawee and Hillsdale counties in Michigan; and portions of Allen, DeKalb and Steuben counties in Indiana. The aquifer serves the drinking water needs of about 20 communities.

An aquifer could be equated to a large sponge of sand and gravel that holds vast amounts of underground water resources.

SSA status helps protect drinking water supplies in areas where few or no alternative sources are available. If contamination were to occur, developing an alternative source would be very expensive.

With EPA approval, the agency must review all federally funded projects in the area to determine the potential for contaminating the aquifer. In this area, Pendleton said, the Interstate highway is the only federal project. The placement of any additional exits, for example, would be reviewed in regard to impact on the aquifer.

SSA status should serve as a guide for future land use, Pendleton said. For example, a chemical plant should not be situated above an aquifer recharge area.

Two Ohio state laws are already in place to guard SSAs, she said. One covers the need for double-walled underground storage tanks and the other governs construction debris in landfills.

One enormous landfill above the aquifer is “grandfathered in,” but future expansion might be limited.

At a Michindoh meeting last year, a speaker from the U.S. Geological Service told how protective clay layers do not always prevent contaminants from reaching deep aquifers.

Another speaker stated that the SSA effort does not aim to discourage commercial growth, but instead to plan wisely.

• Comments should be addressed to William Spaulding, EPA Region 5 (WG-15J), 77 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60604.

  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.soccer.balls
    BEVY OF BALLS—Stair District Library Summer Reading Program VolunTeens, including Libby Rorick, back left and Ty Kruse, back right, threw a dozen inflatable soccer balls into the crowd during a reading of “Sergio Saves the Game.” The sports-themed program continues on Wednesdays through July 27.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016