Water resources of the Grand Rapids area, Michigan

Circular 323
By: , and 



The Grand Rapids area, Michigan, has three sources from which to obtain its water supply: Lake Michigan, the Grand River and its tributaries, and ground water. Each of the first two and possibly the third is capable of supplying the entire needs of the area.

This area is now obtaining a part of its supply from each of these sources. Of the average use of 50 mgd (million gallons per day) during 1951, Lake Michigan supplied 29 mgd; the Grand River and its tributaries supplied 1 mgd; and ground water supplied 20 mgd.

Lake Michigan offers a practically unlimited source of potable water. However, the cost of delivery to the Grand Rapids area presents an economic problem in the further development of this source. Even without storage the Grand River can provide an adequate supply for the city of Grand Rapids. The present average use of the city of Grand Rapids is about 30 mgd and the maximum use is about 60 mgd, while the average flow of the Grand River is 2, 495 mgd or 3, 860 cfs (cubic feet per second) and the minimum daily flow recorded is 246 mgd. The quality and temperature of water in the Grand River is less desirable than Lake Michigan water. However, with proper treatment its chemical quality can be made entirely satisfactory.

The city of Grand Rapids is actively engaged in a study that will lead to the expansion of its present water-supply facilities to meet the expected growth in population in Grand Rapids and its environs.

Ground-water aquifers in the area are a large potential source of supply. The Grand Rapids area is underlain by glacial material containing a moderately hard to very hard water of varying chemical composition but suitable for most uses. The glacial outwash and lacustrine deposits bordering principal streams afford the greatest potential for the development of large supplies of potable ground water. Below the glacial drift, bedrock formations contain water that is extremely hard and moderately to highly mineralized. Thus the major sources of usable ground water are the glacial drift and some parts of the bedrock. Wherever the bedrock yields large quantities of water, the water is generally of inferior quality. Any development should be preceded by test drilling and careful hydrologic and geologic studies of the area under consideration and chemical analysis of the water found.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Water resources of the Grand Rapids area, Michigan
Series title Circular
Series number 323
DOI 10.3133/cir323
Year Published 1954
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s) Michigan Water Science Center
Description Document: iv, 40 p.; 3 Plates: 12.93 x 14.76 inches or smaller
Country United States
State Michigan
City Grand Rapids