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.”