U. S. Geological Survey - Water Resources - Michigan District

Water Resources of Michigan

Simulated Effects of Pumping Irrigation Wells on Ground-Water Levels in Western Saginaw County, Michigan

US Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigation 01-4227
Lansing, Michigan 2001

By: C.J. Hoard and D.B. Westjohn

Accessible Web version is available in Web (HTML) format at:

Table of Contents including Figures, Maps, Graphs, Tables, Appendix, Conversion Factors and Vertical Datum, and Additional Information.


Success of agriculture in many areas of Michigan relies on withdrawal of large quantities of ground water for irrigation. In some areas of the State, water-level declines associated with large ground-water withdrawals may adversely affect nearby residential wells. Residential wells in several areas of Saginaw County, in Michiganís east-central Lower Peninsula, recently went dry shortly after irrigation of crop lands commenced; many of these wells also went dry during last yearís agricultural cycle (summer 2000). In September 2000, residential wells that had been dry returned to function after cessation of pumping from large-capacity irrigation wells.

To evaluate possible effects of ground-water withdrawals from irrigation wells on residential wells, the U.S. Geological Survey used hydrogeologic data including aquifer tests, water-level records, geologic logs, and numerical models to determine whether water-level declines and the withdrawal of ground water for agricultural irrigation are related. Numerical simulations based on representative irrigation well pumping volumes and a 3-month irrigation period indicate water-level declines that range from 5.3 to 20 feet, 2.8 to 12 feet and 1.7 to 6.9 feet at distances of about 0.5, 1.5 and 3 miles from irrigation wells, respectively. Residential wells that are equipped with shallow jet pumps and that are within 0.5 miles of irrigation wells would likely experience reduced yield or loss of yield during peak periods of irrigation. The actual extent that irrigation pumping cause reduced function of residential wells, however, cannot be fully predicted on the basis of the data analyzed because many other factors may be adversely affecting the yield of residential wells.


Hoard, C.J. and Westjohn, D.B., 2001, Simulated Effects of Pumping Irrigation Wells on Ground-Water Levels in Western Saginaw County, Michigan: U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Investigations Report 01-4227.

Back to USGS, WRD Michigan Home Page