The Marquette County Board decided recently to study declining aquifers and lakes, including Martin Lake at K.I. Sawyer and a potential recharge plan for the Sands Plains aquifer, which provides drinking water for numerous area residents.
The problem of sinking surface and subsurface water levels has been persistent over the past several years, but not in all locations of the county. In several areas, lake and groundwater levels have fallen while precipitation rates are above average. Despite a good deal of dialogue, local government officials and residents have been unable to agree on the causes.
We hope the coordinated study -which is expected to include independent hydrologists- will finally produce some definitive answers for the residents of Martin Lake, who have been concerned about the dropping level of their lake for years.
We also hope the study of the so-called "Greenwood Plan" to recharge the Sands Plains aquifer using spring floodwater from the Escanaba River, or potentially the Empire Mine pit, will be deemed a viable option. That would bring relief to residents in that part of the county who are also concerned about their vital declining water resources.
Across the county, government officials will be surveyed to determine the relative levels of lakes and aquifers in their areas, with the compiled data included in the county's 2014 comprehensive plan.
The county board plans to pursue potential state funding for the studies, which is rumored by some lawmakers to be available for such endeavors.
We think these studies could be very beneficial to residents of the county, while there is no doubt lower lakes are a problem across many parts of the region.
However, we also think that finding the money and the independent experts remain keys to the ultimate success of the studies. Without them, support and enthusiasm for the analyses will likely soon evaporate, leaving the county's residents high and dry.