Much to learn about proposed injection well

Letter to the Editor_Wide

Dear Editor:

Last week I attended the Hamilton Township meeting as a Clare County citizen interested in learning more about the fresh-water Enhanced Oil Recovery injection well proposed in section 22 of the township. I appreciate the township board’s interest in this matter and their invitation to MI Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) geologists Coty Whithorn and Amy Rivest to be present for questions. Mr. Whithorn and Ms. Rivest stated that the DEQ has not yet received application from the Muskegon Development Co. (DEQ permitting process happens after EPA permit is approved), however, seemed to answer questions in an open and forthright manner. I’m sure their sharing of their knowledge is appreciated by many.

There is still much to understand about this injection well and whether or not withdrawal of the amount of fresh groundwater required to achieve the high pressure of 3268 pounds per square inch to a depth of 4948 feet, ground water that will never to be recovered as fresh water, will impact ground water available for area drinking water wells. Mr. Whithorn stated that the DEQ does not yet have the hydraulic study needed to answer this question. The required hydraulic study would be conducted and provided by the Muskegon Development Co.; the permit applicant for the injection well. Given that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged with protecting our drinking water, the process of considering a permit that addresses only the quality of drinking water and not the continued availability of drinking water seems to miss the mark. The EPA has advised that, in Michigan, this continued availability of water is addressed by the DEQ.

The proposed permit would place no limit on the amount of water that can be withdrawn to be used in the injection well process; fresh water that will never be fresh water again, but will become brine. At this point, neither the EPA nor the DEQ can tell us definitively that area residents will not lose their well water due to this infinite withdrawal of fresh ground water.

There is still much to learn. I ask my fellow citizens of Clare and Gladwin counties to join me in learning about this issue and to submit public comment to the EPA. The Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation (MCWC) has an excellent presentation on their website, www.saveMIwater.org, that talks about injections wells in general.

Public comment may be made to the EPA until Friday, August 18. To comment, send a letter referring to Holcomb 1-22 well, #MI-035-2R-0034 to William Tong, U.S. EPA, Water Division (UIC Branch), 77 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60604-3590; or email Mr. Tong at tong.william@epa.gov.

Sincerely,
Letha Raymond
Clare County resident and concerned citizen

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