Groundwater is the source of drinking water for everyone in Kalamazoo County. Groundwater is located beneath the ground surface in the spaces between sand and gravel particles. Groundwater is preferred over surface water in this area since it is relatively abundant, easy to extract, and generally lacks harmful bacteria. However, groundwater can also be vulnerable to contamination if any spills, leaks, or dumping of harmful substances occur at or beneath the ground surface.
The City of Kalamazoo has a Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) approved Wellhead Protection Program, and has been awarded the national Exemplary Source Water Protection Award by the American Water Works Association. The City has also been a recipient of the Michigan Wellhead Protection Program Award multiple times and been awarded the Michigan “Richard Husby Public Awareness Award” for its Wellhead Protection Program education efforts. Kalamazoo has also been designated a Groundwater Guardian Community by the Groundwater Foundation every year since 1998.
The City of Kalamazoo Wellhead Protection website www.protectyourwater.net has specific information about the City of Kalamazoo Water System, related ordinances, great links to other websites, and information about stormwater and other surface water issues.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality performed Source Water Assessments to assess the susceptibility of all public water supply sources to contamination. The susceptibility rating is on a six-tiered scale from “very low” to “high” based primarily on geologic sensitivity, water chemistry, well construction and contaminant sources. The susceptibility rating of the city’s (then) 19 wellfields was: Moderate (2 wellfields), Moderate High (12 wellfields) and High (5 wellfields).
For more information regarding these ratings or the WHPP, please contact the Water Resource Division Manager at (269) 337-8737 or visit www.protectyourwater.net.
Wellhead Protection Zoning Overlay
As a City of Kalamazoo drinking water supply customer, you can help ensure that the water you are drinking within your home and business remains safe. Prevent cross-connections with the City of Kalamazoo’s water supply by ensuring that all backflow prevention devices are installed, inspected and properly maintained by licensed and certified plumbers as required by state and local plumbing codes.
What is a "backflow"?
Backflow is water flowing in the opposite direction of its normal flow. Backflow can allow contaminants to enter the drinking water system through cross-connections.
The undesirable material may come from sources connected to your own home or facility’s internal or external plumbing. A backflow in the water system can be created in areas that experience a sudden loss of pressure. Pressure changes can occur as a result of water main breaks, fire department usage, or during times of hydrant flushing.
If any of these conditions occur in your area, you should flush your lines before using the water to minimize iron particles and other undesirable contaminants that may be present. Flush your taps by starting in your restroom facility or utility sink, and working out towards your food service area.
What is a "cross-connection"?
Cross-connections are arrangements of piping or appurtenances through which a backflow of undesirable material could enter the potable (drinking) water system.
Help prevent cross-connections:
- Do not submerge hoses in buckets, pools, tubs, sinks or process tanks.
- Do not use spray attachments without a backflow prevention device. The chemicals used on your lawn are toxic and can be fatal if ingested.
- Do buy and install backflow prevention devices (hose bib vacuum breakers) for all threaded faucets around your home or business. They are inexpensive and available at hardware stores and home improvement centers.
- Never install sprinkler systems, fire suppression systems, or boilers with chemical additives without proper backflow prevention devices.
- Ensure that your softener drain line has an air gap between the drain line and the receiving drain.
- Residential and Commercial establishments connected to the municipal water system must properly abandon all water wells onsite and provide abandonment information to the City of Kalamazoo and the Kalamazoo Environmental Community Health Department.
Stormwater is generally rainwater or snowmelt from streets and parking lots that is collected by open grated catch basins and inlets. The City of Kalamazoo has separate sewer systems for sanitary and stormwater. A portion of stormwater runoff is routed directly to the Kalamazoo River, creeks, lakes or ponds. Consequently, it is important to keep oils, grease, fuels, chemicals, lawn fertilizer, grass clippings, trash and other debris from getting to our streets.
“Remember— what gets to the street, gets to the creek!”
Since groundwater and surface water are generally interconnected, your efforts to protect one may positively impact the other. Visit www.protectyourwater.net for more information. Please contact the Water Resource Division Manager at (269) 337-8737 for additional information regarding stormwater quality.
It is important to keep oils, grease, fuels, chemicals, lawn fertilizer, grass clippings, trash and other debris from getting to our streets.
The City has Performance Standards for both groundwater and stormwater that can be found at www.kalamazoocity.org/environment and www.protectyourwater.net.
Stormwater Discharge Management Zones
Help prevent pollutants from getting into groundwater or surface water features by taking unused hazardous household chemicals to the Kalamazoo County Household Hazardous Waste Collection Center, located at 1301 Lamont Avenue, off of Lake Street next to the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds.
Contact the center at (269) 373-5211 or view their website at www.kalcounty.com/hhw for more information. Unused prescription drug disposal locations and hours are listed at www.kalcounty.com/hhw/med-disposal.htm.