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Water Resources of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, in: Michigan, 1998

By: Sweat, M.J.


The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (figure 1) depends on ground water for most domestic, commercial, and industrial supplies, although the communities of Baraga and L'Anse obtain their water supply from Keweenaw Bay. Plans for additional capacity and development of a Tribal industrial park are being considered, and ground-water sources could be threatened by spills of any contaminants at the park. Information on water resources is needed to make sound decisions about future activities at the industrial park.

Thick, water-bearing surficial deposits are absent from much of the Tribal lands, and bedrock aquifers, principally the Jacobsville Sandstone and the Michigamme Slate, are the primary sources of public water supplies for the community. Aquifer tests and historic water levels indicate that these bedrock aquifers are hydraulically connected, and are confined throughout most of the Tribal lands. Hydraulic conductivities in these formations range from 10-4 to 101 meters per day. Near the shores of Keweenaw Bay, Huron Bays, and locally throughout the Tribal lands, water levels in wells are above land surface.

Ground water flows from Tribal lands toward Keweenaw Bay, Huron Bay, and Silver River. Between the Tribal industrial park and Keweenaw Bay, ground water flows to the southeast, toward Keweenaw Bay. Along this flow path, surficial deposits are generally thicker than 26 meters, and contain thick lenses of clay and clay mixed with sand. The average depth to ground water along this flow path is greater than 26 meters. Wells in this area completed in the underlying bedrock have sustainable yields of 1 liter per second.

The quality of ground water and surface water is suitable for most domestic, commercial, and industrial uses. Locally, however, concentrations of dissolved iron (35,000 micrograms per liter) and manganese (560 micrograms per liter) in ground water make the water undesirable for some uses.

Sweat, M.J., 1998, Water Resources of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, in: Michigan: Its Geology and Geologic Resources - Fifth Symposium Abstracts, p. 20.

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