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Oxford gets $46K to protect water supply



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January 12, 2011 - Good news for Oxford Township and Village, the municipalities were awarded a combined $46,102 in wellhead protection grants from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

"This is a great way to start off the new year," said township Supervisor Bill Dunn.

The township was awarded $21,127 while the village is set to receive $24,975.

Protecting groundwater supplies from contamination is the purpose of this financial assistance from the state, which the two Oxfords applied for jointly last year.

"It's important that we work together because even though we're served by two different systems, we both get our drinking water from the same ground," Dunn said. "We've got to protect it. Contamination doesn't pay attention to boundaries or politics."

According to Mike Chapman, a senior hydrogeologist for Peerless-Midwest, Inc., his company will use the money to install 15 sentinel wells six in the township and nine in the village at a total of five locations. Each location would have three wells.

"These are monitoring wells that are going to be located downgradient of potential sources of contamination to the water supply," he explained.

Downgradient is the direction that groundwater flows toward lower elevations. It's similar to downstream for surface water.

Wells downgradient of contaminated groundwater sources are prone to receiving pollutants.

For instance, three sentinel wells would be placed behind Chardonnay Family Dining (595 N. Lapeer Rd.) because the restaurant's located south (or downgradient) of the former Sea Ray boat plant near M-24 and Ray Rd.

"There was a known release (of contaminants) from an underground storage tank at that (Sea Ray) facility," Chapman said. "It's no longer an active site, but there still may be contaminants in the groundwater that the township should know about in case they need to do some type of treatment."

"If there's any pollution and it comes our way, it's going to come by that (sentinel) well. That's why we're putting it there," Dunn said. "The county will periodically go down there, take some water samples and test them to see if there's any contamination."

Peerless-Midwest hopes to install all of the sentinel wells sometime this year.

"What we're waiting on right now is for the state to release the funds, so that we're not doing any work before the funds are made available," Chapman said.

A total of 27 communities received a combined $298,000 in wellhead protection grants.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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