Judge grants temporary order stopping operations at Ann Arbor-area mine
A Washtenaw County judge has ordered a halt to operations at a mine in Ann Arbor Township, putting a temporary stop to activity that Ann Arbor Charter Township said violated township ordinances, and that nearby residents said was draining their drinking water wells.
The Township filed a motion for the temporary restraining order in addition to a lawsuit against Mid Michigan Materials — the company operating the sand and gravel mine in the Vella Pit — and two associated companies.
"The Township will suffer immediate and irreparable harm ... because Defendants are intentionally engaging in mining practices that have lowered the water table in the Township, causing at least 11 residential wells to run dry, and the operations are adversely impacting Township surface water resources," the township's legal filings said.
Amy Olszewski, who lives near the mine, said her well pump stopped functioning in June. She said she's been worried about water access.
"I just don't see how it's possible that a company can move in, and then just start taking away the water that's underneath our homes, the water we need for drinking."
The mine quarries materials for road and other construction. Olszewski and other nearby residents said their aim is not to shut down the operation entirely.
"I think mining's necessary, we need to have roads in Michigan ... but I don't think mining should be done at the expense of an entire community's well-being and health," Olszewski said.
According to the restraining order, the township is allowed to padlock the gates of the Vella Pit to bar entry of people and trucks if Mid Michigan Materials does not immediately cease mining operations.
Judge Timothy Connors said he will review the order at another hearing on October 19.
The company has stated that "no irreparable harm exists," that no residents are currently without water, and that residents' concerns have been promptly addressed.
But residents have said that the daily pumping of millions of gallons of water off site has lowered the local water table, dried up wells, and released sediment into nearby Massey Lake and Fleming Creek.
A spokesperson for Mid Michigan Materials said in a statement, "We are currently reviewing the decision and have no additional comment at this time."