Evart, Reed City receive grants from DEQ

EVART — Residents at two Osceola County cities will benefit from matching grants from the Department of Environmental Quality to help safeguard public water systems to protects their source water from contamination.

Along with 36 other communities throughout the state, Evart and Reed City received the matching grant for financial assistance through the Source Water Protection Grant Program. Evart received $12,882.50 and Reed City was awarded $4,500.

As part of the Source Water Protection Program, communities relying upon wells will define the area contributing drinking water to their wells, identify potential contaminants within that area and implement management strategies and educational activities to protect their water supply.

“The importance of safe drinking water sources for Michigan residents cannot be overstated,” said DEQ Director Heidi Grether. “These grants will help 38 communities across Michigan to protect their public water supply systems from contamination and deliver safe drinking water to those they serve.”

Evart City Manager Zack Szakacs said the funds the city received will help ongoing educational programs for the city’s nine wells.

“It will insure that we keep any contaminants away from our wells,” he said. “The Wellhead Protection Program helps supply safe drinking water to residents, by providing us funds to help educate residents about contaminates. We’re one of the communities fortunate enough to get it.”

Szakacs said the funds help offset the costs of engineers for mapping and studying the boundaries around the wells.

“The grant helps with an ongoing education program, giving us the resources to set up signs to let people know that we don’t want any sort of contamination near a well or anything that could be detrimental to the water supply is outside of those boundaries,” he added.

With its grant award, Ron Howell, city manager of Reed City, said the city will continue the education and protection process for the city’s four wells.

“The city has been working with engineering firm Fleis & VandenBrink, and what it comes down to is protecting the city’s water supply,” he said. “With our wells scattered throughout the area, the Wellhead Protection Program provides us the opportunity to identify and educate the public about the wells and the watersheds where they are located.”

Howell said the education portion of the program is key to protecting drinking water.

“We educate the public and let them know we don’t want any kind of activity in the area of those wells that could potentially contaminate the supply,” he said. “We identify our existing wells, map them out, and help people understand the watershed, where we draw our water, as well as the water flow from the upper and lower aquifers.”

With contaminated water supplies being a big issue throughout the state, Howell said a grant like this helps the city continue its program.

“Our city wells are over 200 feet deep,” he said. “We are very confident about our water supply.”

The next round of applications will be solicited from public water supply systems in May 2017.