Groundwater levels rising in Bellevue area
From Staff Reports
The Huron County General Health District has been monitoring groundwater levels in the Bellevue area…and they are rising due to increased snow melt followed by the heavy spring rains.
The health district says groundwater levels in the Bellevue area have risen over 50 feet in the last two months. As of June 2, the current groundwater level was 2.18 feet below land surface. This could lead to flooding.
Historically, groundwater flooding is not new to the Bellevue area. There have been 6 massive flooding events in and around Bellevue since 1800. The most recent flooding event occurred in 2008.
For the months of January through May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Toledo station reported 21.56 inches of precipitation, up 8.75 inches from normal.
Groundwater comes from rain, snow, sleet, and hail that absorbs into the ground. Water moves down into the ground because of gravity, passing between particles of soil, sand, gravel, or rock until it reaches a depth where the ground is filled, or saturated, with water. Once the water reaches the saturated level, the water table will rise, increasing the chance of groundwater flooding.
The Bellevue area is geologically unique. Bellevue sits atop an underground watershed made of Karst limestone filled with fractures or channels ranging in diameter from 1 inch to several feet. The channels direct water below the surface. Fractures may be connected east to west but are normally connected north to south which accounts for why some areas flood while neighboring areas do not.
When the groundwater in the area cannot escape, ultimately into Lake Erie, because the volume of water is too great, it backs up.
“Think of it as a funnel,” said Tim Hollinger, Huron County Health Commissioner. “If water is being poured into the top end of the funnel faster than it can escape from the bottom, the water will back up and start to pour out of the top.”
Essentially, the Karst limestone becomes the escape valve or path of least resistance where the groundwater escapes creating the groundwater flooding in and around Bellevue.
Common flooding concerns include water infiltration in basements, indoor mold issues, hazardous driving conditions, water-borne illnesses and well and septic system problems. In preparation for a flood, homeowners should remove furniture and valuables from the basement and check the sump-pump. Also, flood water may contain harmful bacteria so residents are encouraged to advise their children to not play in flood water. High waters on roadways can be deceptive; it only takes a few inches of water to cause drivers to lose control of their vehicle. Do not drive through pools of water on the road.
Additional precautions need to be taken by homeowners that have well and/or sewage systems. Those precautions can be viewed on the Huron County General Health District website at www.huroncohealth.com under Huron Health News.
For real-time data on the current groundwater level, visit http://waterdata.usgs.gov/oh/nwis/uv/?site_no=411819082493900.
For more information on flood preparation and remediation, visit http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/