The City of Marshall is continuing a comprehensive program to protect the City’s water supply. The City’s wellhead protection area, or WHPA, has been defined and approved by the State of Michigan. The City is currently working on ways to help better safeguard drinking water. The WHPA represents the zone around the City’s well field, identified by geologic and hydraulic factors, that is managed to prevent contamination of the water supply. A majority of the WHPA lies north of the City limits in portions of Marshall, Marengo, and Lee and Convis Townships in what is mostly agricultural area. Residents within the WHPA have been given a survey and asked to identify any abandoned wells on their properties. The City is working with Peerless- Midwest Inc. to complete an abandoned well search. City and Peerless Midwest representatives may also visit select properties within the WHPA. The plan also includes public education and participation, as well as a strategy to handle emergencies concerning the water supply. Other community-wide efforts include groundwater education programs at local schools and the installation of new signs identifying the WHPA. A WHPA Committee, made up of City and Township residents and officials, was formed to aid in the management of the WHPA Management Plan.
Abandoned wells that are not sealed off pose a risk because contaminants that accidentally enter the wells, such as oil or gasoline, could directly enter the subsurface aquifer. Just one pint of oil can expand over an acre of water within the aquifer. Abandoned wells are essentially a direct conduit to the subsurface aquifer, and are an important part of the WHPA Program. Potential or existing contamination sources uncovered by the survey will be outlined in the WHPA management plan. Strategies are being developed for managing and/or monitoring areas within the WHPA to prevent potential pollutants from reaching the water supply. Residents within the WHPA that have abandoned wells on their property should have them properly sealed. The City, with help from a state grant program, will assist in the coordination of sealing the abandoned wells within the WHPA.