Michindoh Aquifer: Worthy of protection 2009.11.25

Studying the map of the Michindoh Aquifer published in last week’s Observer can produce a feeling of awe, yet at the same time, there’s something disconcerting about the image.

It’s truly amazing to understand how an aquifer—an enormous underground “sponge” containing vast amounts of melted glaciers—can provide drinking water for 90,000 people, day after day for years.

From Addison south to Hicksville, from Morenci west to Camden, the residents from more than 20 communities depend on the Michindoh for clean drinking water.

Nature provides an amazing service as huge beds of sand and gravel hold a resource we can’t live without.

With one large collection of water serving so many communities, the map of the Michindoh is also a little worrisome. If something happened to contaminate the source, where would residents turn for safe drinking water?

The U.S. EPA estimates that Morenci and Fayette would each pay at least $11 million to develop a new source of water.

The aquifer recharges at a rate of three to six inches a year from surface sources and rivers such as Bean Creek. Protecting the recharge sources is also essential to keeping the aquifer pure.

Because so many communities depend on the Michindoh for water, the sponge is eligible for designation as a sole-source aquifer. The EPA is poised to make that designation, but the agency first wants to hear from citizens.

An informational meeting is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 13 in Bryan’s New Era Auditorium, followed by a public hearing. We urge your support of the sole-source designation.