Water Users Work Group

May 31, 2013

Update: October 16, 2013

Background

Part 327, Great Lakes Preservation, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act allows for the formation of three types of local water users groups in different circumstances:

Water Resources Assessment and Education Committees may be formed by local entities on notification by the DEQ that a zone B or zone C withdrawal has been authorized by the WWAT, a permit issued under Part 327 or a permit issued under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The purpose of these committees is to assess trends in water use in the vicinity of the withdrawal, education water users, and provide recommendations related to long-term water resources planning, use of conservation measures, drought management activities and other topics related to water use identified by the committee. Part 327 says the DEQ shall assist in the formation of the committees and may provide technical information regarding water use and capacity within the vicinity aggregated at the stream reach level.

Water Users Committees may be formed by water use registrants, permit holders and local governments to evaluate the status of current water resources, water use, and trends in water use within the watershed and to assist in long-term water resources planning. The statute requires the DEQ to notify all registrants, permit holders and local units of government officials within a watershed when it authorizes a zone B withdrawal in a cold-transitional river system or a zone C withdrawal and of the authority to establish water users committees. The statute authorizes the DEQ to provide technical information regarding water use and capacity within the vicinity aggregated at the stream reach level.

Ad hoc subcommittees may be created by a local government official who is participating on a water users committee to obtain information and advice from residents in that local governmental unit on water resources, water use, and trends in water use within the local unit of government.

Part 327 also requires the DEQ to convene a meeting of registrants and permit holders within a watershed when it has determined that adverse resource impacts are occurring or are likely to occur due to one or more large quantity withdrawals and there is no water users committee. The purpose of the meeting is to attempt to facilitate an agreement on voluntary measures to prevent adverse resource impacts.

Goals

• Develop tools, methods and resources to assist local water user groups in getting started, assessing water use trends, educating water users and the community in general, planning for the shared use of potentially limited water resources, and resolving water use conflicts when additional withdrawals cannot be authorized.

• Identify alternative voluntary measures that may prevent or eliminate adverse resources impacts and that are likely to be acceptable to a broad array of water users.

Specific Tasks

• Develop a plan for addressing each task and meeting work group goals in consideration of other work groups’ work, sequencing of task and delivery of all final recommendations and products from the Council to the Quality of Life agencies by December 15, 2014. The plan should also identify information needed from and potential areas of overlap with other work groups, and information and support needed from the QOL agencies.

• Recommend draft guidance and available tools related to establishing and effectively operating the various types of water users groups, including when and how to establish an effective group; who (i.e. stakeholder groups, water users, local governments, tribes, etc.) should be included; how to engage those who are not currently registered water users; topics for discussion; tools for productive, collaborative discussion and decision making; methods for resolving conflict; etc.

• Recommend approaches and considerations for evaluating local water use trends and projecting future water use demands.

• Identify alternative voluntary measures, including but not limited to water conservation and drought management and information sources for such measures, and provide advice on methods to identify voluntary measures that may be helpful in allocating scarce resources and eliminating or preventing adverse resource impacts (some overlap with water conservation group).Propose roles and responsibilities of users to make allocation decisions.

• Recommend tools and procedures for incorporating local water use agreements and long term plans into the DEQ’s decision making process.

• Provide recommendations and information not specifically covered in the bullets but, in the view of the work group, are critical to ensure the success of water user groups.

Timeline and Deliverables

• Present work group plan, including timing of presentations to the Council and proposed dates for delivery of written reports and recommendations to the DEQ – first Council meeting following establishment of work group.

• Oral report on activities, progress and barriers to fulfilling the charge - each Council meeting

• Draft recommendations and guidance for the Council’s consideration - TBD

• Present background and draft recommendations at full Council meetings - TBD

• Prepare reports for consideration by the full Council, including a brief summary of pertinent background information, recommendations around which there is work group consensus, recommendations around which there was discussion but no consensus, and other areas that should be explored or require additional work – TBD

• Revise and finalize reports based on feedback from the Council, such that the findings and recommendations reflect the views of the Council rather than the Work Group - TBD/Complete by December 15, 2014.

Members

Pat Norris – Co chair
Andy Such – Co chair
Jim Johnson
Andy LeBaron
Mike Newman (Shada Biabani)
Ben Russell
Charlie Scott (Jon Scott)