MARQUETTE - The Marquette County Board is expected to hear an update Tuesday on the water pumping from two wells at K.I. Sawyer that some residents believe could be causing depleted levels of Martin Lake and other nearby bodies of water.
The board meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Room 231 of the Henry Skewis Annex to the Marquette County Courthouse in Marquette.
Steve Schenden, director of operations at Sawyer, said in a memo to Marquette County Administrator Scott Eribisch that the K.I. Sawyer Water Department reduced amounts of groundwater production from wells 9 and 10 to decrease any possible effects the production may have on groundwater levels southeast of the wells, including Martin Lake.
Sections of the bottom of Martin Lake, which used to be submerged, were cut away last year. The level of the lake has dropped dramatically over the past few years. Residents think the reason is water pumping from wells at K.I. Sawyer. Some county and state officials have also considered other possibilities including drought, climate change and increased vegetation growth. (Journal file photo by John Pepin )
A boat lies along the shore of Martin Lake in an area that used to be underwater. (Journal file photo by John Pepin )
Last fall, residents in the Martin Lake area asked the board to stop pumping water from the wells in hopes of influencing lake levels, which have dropped precipitously over the past few years. The board agreed to cut water production at the wells to the lowest levels possible, without affecting water quality, and said it would revisit the lake levels issue this spring.
Schenden said the decreased pumping levels have been in effect since Oct. 5 and a summary of the water pumping is sent to Martin Lake and Sporley Lake residents each month, as requested by the board.
The two wells produce 3 percent to 5 percent of the water used at K.I. Sawyer. Officials said they have noticed no change in water quality with decreased operation of the wells.
Schenden said Sands Township questioned the effects of well water pumping at K.I. Sawyer on Strawberry Lake levels. Schenden said Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials said because of the distance involved, the pumping was not expected to affect Strawberry Lake.
"Therefore, staff have not investigated reduced groundwater levels in that area," Schenden said.
The board has not yet been apprised as to whether the reduced pumping has helped rebound water levels at Martin and Sporley lakes.
In other agenda items, the board will get a 4-H update, discuss a license agreement with the Register of Deeds, consider a lost parking ticket fee increase at Sawyer International Airport, a state of Michigan aircraft rescue and fire grant and reduction in length of one runway at the airport.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.