The Hillsdale Con­ser­vation Dis­trict pro­vides resources for landowners whose houses run off well water. Facebook

Hillsdale is metic­ulous when it comes to water quality. Two dif­ferent orga­ni­za­tions help ensure water is clean in Hillsdale and the sur­rounding areas.

While the City of Hillsdale Board of Public Util­ities actively mon­itors quality at water treatment plants, the Hillsdale Con­ser­vation Dis­trict pro­vides resources for landowners whose houses run off well water. The Con­ser­vation Dis­trict held a well water testing event a few weeks ago. The primary water source for the county is well water.

Well depth depends on its location, as the glaciers formed the water tables in dif­ferent parts of  the county and state dif­fer­ently. A typical Hillsdale well is often between 15 and 80 ft deep.

“Years ago, we got away with drilling shallow wells,” Tech­nician for Michigan Agri­culture Envi­ron­mental Assurance Program Allison Dauer said. “Recent research has shown that it’s safer to drill wells deeper. The deeper you go the cleaner the water is.”

The dis­trict tests the water for nitrogen com­pounds.  

“It’s a basic test,” Dauer said. “Nitrogen can be espe­cially dan­gerous for small children and infants and can make them sick or lead to death.”

10 ppm of Nitrogen in water is con­sidered unsafe. The Con­ser­vation Dis­trict is able to test up to 50 ppm. If water tests pos­itive for 5 ppm or more, the dis­trict gives the home­owner a warning and the option to send the water to a lab for testing.

“For the most part, we don’t have many pos­itive,” Dauer said. “I’ve been here around five years and I’ve seen maybe one test even close to 5 ppm. The water often tests at 2 ppm or less.”

If certain water from a well were to test poorly, it’s up to the landowner to decide what they’d like to do about it. Dauer said that unless the water has a funny odor or color, the owners will usually keep the well as drilling a new one is expensive.

As to whether well water is safer than water from the water treatment plant or vice versa, Dauer says it comes down to per­sonal pref­erence.  

“You acquire taste for water,” Dauer said. “Country people can’t stand the taste of city water. People raised on water from the water treatment plants hate well water.”

Water from water treatment plants, which is where Hillsdale city water comes from, has flu­oride and chlorine added to it. The average con­cen­tration of water in the city of Hillsdale in 2017 was .49 ppm.

“A little Flu­oride is good, but a lot is bad,” Water and Waste­water Super­in­tendent Bill Briggs said. “If you have too much it can dete­ri­orate bones and teeth. There’s nat­u­rally occurring Flu­oride in most drinking water. We have to be careful to not put too much in.”

Briggs said there must also be enough chlorine in the water.

“We keep track of the chlorine residual. If the water runs into bac­teria, the chlorine will be enough to keep it from harming everyone.”

According to the 2017 Con­sumer Con­fi­dence Report from the Hillsdale Board of Public Util­ities, Hillsdale city water meets all state and federal stan­dards for water quality.

“Water quality in the city of Hillsdale is pretty good,” Briggs said. “That’s partly because we treat it. We monitor it daily, take nec­essary pre­cau­tions if a water main breaks, and attempt to follow all guide­lines of the DEQ. Some­times we slip up, but 99 percent of the time we’re on top of it.”