In 1990, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) completed a study of the hydrogeology of Huron County, Michigan (Sweat, 1991). In 1993, Huron County and the USGS entered into a continuing agreement to measure water levels at selected wells throughout Huron County. As part of the agreement, USGS initially operated four continuous water-level recorders, installed from 1988 to 1991 on wells in Bingham (H5r), Fairhaven (H9r), Grant (H2r), and Lake Townships (H25Ar) and summarized the data collected in an annual or bi-annual report (fig. 1). The agreement was altered in 2003, and beginning January 1, 2004, only wells H9r and H25Ar retained continuous water-level recorders, while wells H2r and H5r reverted to quarterly or periodic measurement status due to budget constraints. The decision of which two wells to discontinue was based on an analysis of the intrinsic value to Huron County of data from each well. Well H2r was selected for periodic measurement at that time because it is completed in the glacial aquifer, which is absent in much of Huron County and well H5r, which is completed in the Marshall aquifer, was selected because the water level in the well is often perturbed as a result of pumpage from nearby production wells and does not always reflect baseline conditions within the aquifer.
USGS also has provided training for County or Huron Conservation District personnel to measure the water level in 24 of the wells on a quarterly basis. USGS personnel accompany County or Huron Conservation District personnel on a semi-annual basis to provide a quality assurance/quality control check of all measurements being made. Water-level data collected from the wells is summarized in an annual or bi-annual report.
The altitude of Lake Huron and precipitation are good indicators of general climatic conditions and, therefore, provide an environmental context for ground-water levels in Huron County. Figure 2 shows the mean-monthly water-level altitude of Lake Huron, averaged from measurements made at Essexville and Harbor Beach (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2008), and monthly precipitation measured in Harbor Beach, Sebewaing, and Bad Axe (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Danny Costello, written commun., 2007-08).
In December 2007, the water level in Lake Huron dropped to a new monthly mean low of 576.38 ft for the period from 1988 through 2007 (the previous low-water level of 576.57 ft was measured in March 2003). The net decline in the water level of Lake Huron from January 2006 through December 2007 was 0.68 ft. In 2006, annual precipitation measured at Harbor Beach was 3.2 in. above the long-term average of 31.1 in., with 10.6 in. measured during the 2006 growing season (May through August). In 2007, annual precipitation measured at Harbor Beach was 1.4 in. below normal, with 9.7 in. measured during the growing season.
In the two wells equipped with continuous water-level recorders, the water level rose 0.32 ft from January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2007 in well H9r, but declined 1.11 ft in well H25Ar. Curiously, well H9r is drilled adjacent to Saginaw Bay (Lake Huron), and, as previously noted, there was a 0.68 ft decline in the water level in Saginaw Bay during that period.
Twenty four wells were measured on a quarterly or periodic basis from December 2005 through December 2007 (well H26 was destroyed during summer 2007 reducing the total number of wells from 25). These wells are completed in the glacial, Saginaw and Marshall aquifers, and the Coldwater confining unit. Although each quarterly or periodic measurement only provides a 'snapshot' water level (measured in ft below land surface, and altitude, in ft above sea level), the data adequately define the generalized water-level trend in the aquifer near the well. Water levels in 6 quarterly-measured wells had net rises ranging from 0.09 to 1.45 ft for the period, while water levels in 18 of the wells had net declines ranging from 0.26 to 2
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Ground-Water Levels in Huron County, Michigan, 2006-07