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Water levels healthy
Water levels healthy
By JOSEPH KOZIOL JR.
Geauga County Commissioners got a reading on the pulse of the county's lifeblood last week and the prognosis is good.
Commissioners received a report from hydrologist Martha Jagucki, with the U.S. Geological Survey, showing that underground water levels, for the most part, remain healthy.
Commissioner Tracy Jemison compared the report to getting a physical for a person's health, but this was for the ground.
With the exception of three wells in the Middlefield area, water levels in the county are at normal, above normal or much above-normal ranges.
Ms. Jagucki said that makes sense for reading in 2011, given that Northeast Ohio saw 18 inches above normal precipitation for the year.
Ms. Jagucki said the USGS performs manual measurements of water levels six times per year at 25 wells and continuous recording of water levels at another six wells.
David Dietrich, county planning director, said ground water is important to life in Geauga as most residents and businesses depend on the water that lies beneath them.
He said his office is in close contact with township zoning and the information provided by the program since 1996 has been used to assist them, including a court case in Bainbridge Township.
Mr. Dietrich said the program, a joint venture between the county and the USGS, is the only program like it in the state for a county.
Ms. Jagucki said the network of wells is used to discern the difference in water levels, trends and to determine whether those fluctuations are a result of precipitation or development.
The longer the program is run, she said, the more data officials have to determine the trends of water levels. Water level declines are compared to annual precipitation trends, the location of the wells relative to public-supply wells and local development.
Ms. Jagucki said three wells in or near the village of Middlefield have shown below-normal water levels since 2010. She said those wells are all located in different aquifers and that it is likely they are being affected by village's public water supply system.
Commissioner Mary Samide asked if monitoring the wells would be able to detect differences in water levels near Parkman Township where a hydraulic fracturing operation was recently set up.
Ms. Jagucki said the wells could show a difference immediately or show a difference a year down the road.
Mr. Jemison said wells sometimes require cleaning and asked if the three wells in Middlefield needed that type of maintenance.
Ms. Jagucki said the wells are routinely maintained.
She said there are two other areas of concern in the county. One of them is in Aquilla Village and the other in the South Russell Village. She said both are back up to a normal range but have seen drops in levels in the past.
Mr. Dietrich said the picture for available water in the county is a positive one, except for the Middlefield areas.
As for water quality, Ms. Jagucki said, testing is done every 10 years. The latest report is due out soon, she said.
Ms. Jagucki presented commissioners with a proposed budget for continuing the monitoring of wells, for which the county pays 60 percent of the costs. The county will pay $23,500 and the USGS $15,680 for a total contract of $39,180.
Ms. Jagucki said the actual cost could vary, depending on what Congress does with the federal budget.
Those costs could be reduced, Ms. Jagucki said, if the county cooperates in the purchase of four transducers for $10,000, which allows a reduction in the number of measurements taken.
Planning Commission Chairwoman Margaret Muehling said the commission recommends that commissioners make the purchase and recoup the money over the succeeding years through savings.
Mr. Jemison said the program is a valuable one for the county and should be continued. He said the program provides an opportunity to foresee possible problems rather than find them when someone goes to turn on the faucet.
Ms. Samide agreed, saying that development in the county has increased, which generates more opportunities for water issues to arise.
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