Hydrology and land use in Grand Traverse County, Michigan

Water-Resources Investigations Report 90-4122

Prepared in cooperation with Grand Traverse County and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Geological Survey Division
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Glacial deposits are the sole source of ground-water supplies in Grand Traverse County. These deposits range in thickness from 100 to 900 feet and consist of till, outwash, and materials of lacustrine and eolian origin. In some areas, the deposits fill buried valleys that are 500 feet deep. Sedimentary rocks of Paleozoic age, which underlie the glacial deposits, are mostly shale and are not used for water supply.

Of the glacial deposits, outwash and lacustrine sand are the most productive aquifers. Most domestic wells obtain water from sand and gravel at depths ranging from 50 to 150 feet and yield at least 20 gallons per minute. Irrigation, municipal, and industrial wells capable of yielding 250 gallons per minute or more are generally greater than 150 feet deep. At places in the county where moranial deposits contain large amounts of interbedded silt and clay, wells are generally deeper and yields are much lower.

Areal variations in the chemical and physical characteristics of ground and surface water are related to land use and chemical inputs to the hydrologic system. Information on fertilizer application, septic-tank discharges, animal wastes, and precipitation indicate that 40 percent of nitrogen input is from precipitation, 6 percent from septic tanks, 14 percent from animal wastes, and 40 percent from fertilizers.

Streams and lakes generally have a calcium bicarbonate-type water. The dissolved-solids concentration of streams ranged from 116 to 380 milligrams per liter, and that of lakes, from 47 to 170 milligrams per liter. Water of streams is hard to very hard; water of lakes ranges from soft to hard. The maximum total nitrogen concentration found in streams was 4.4 milligrams per liter. Water of lakes have low nitrogen concentrations; the median nitrate concentration is less than 0.01 milligrams per liter. Pesticides (Parathion and Simazine) were detected in low concentrations at six stream sites; 2,4-D was detected in low concentrations in water of two lakes. Relationships between land use and the yield of dissolved and suspended substances could not be established for most stream basins.

Calcium and bicarbonate are the principal dissolved substances in ground water. Dissolved-solids concentrations ranged from 70 to 700 milligrams per liter; the countywide mean concentration is 230 milligrams per liter. The mean nitrate concentration is 1.3 milligrams per liter; about 1.6 percent of the county's ground water has nitrate concentrations that exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's maximum drinking water level of 10 milligrams per liter. An effect of fertilizer applications on ground-water quality is evident in some parts of the county.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrology and land use in Grand Traverse County, Michigan
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Lansing, MI
Contributing office(s):
Michigan Water Science Center
Document: viii, 99 p.; 3 Plates: 26.93 x 38.31 inches or smaller
United States
Grand Traverse County