August 22, 2013 Meeting notes
Gary Dawson, Consumers Energy; Dave Hamilton, The Nature Conservancy; James Clift, Michigan Environmental Council; Frank Ettawageshik, United Tribes of Michigan; Tom Frazier, Michigan Townships Association; Shada Biabani, Michigan Aggregates Association; Wayne Wood, Michigan Farm Bureau; Laura Campbell, Michigan Farm Bureau; Jim Byrum, Michigan Agri-Business Association; George Carr, Michigan Ground Water Association; Bryan Burroughs, Michigan Trout Unlimited; Robert Whitesides, Kalamazoo River Watershed Council; Ben Russell, Southwest Michigan Water Resources Council (SWMWRC); Pat Norris, Michigan State University (MSU); Dave Lusch, MSU; Brian Eggers, Michigan Chamber of Commerce; Howard Reeves*, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS); Jon Bartholic*, MSU Institute of Water Research (IWR); Frank Ruswick, IWR; Jon Allan*, Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Office of the Great Lakes (OGL); Jim Johnson*, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD); Abby Eaton, MDARD; Tammy Newcomb*, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR); Margaret Bettenhausen *, Department of Attorney General (DAG); Dina Klemans*, DEQ Water Resources Division (WRD)
Pat Staskiewicz, American Water Works Association (AWWA); Erin McDonough, Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC); Becky Humphries, Ducks Unlimited; Charlie Scott, Michigan Golf Course Owners; Wm. Scott Brown, Michigan Lake and Stream Associations; Andy Such, Michigan Manufacturers Association; Dr. Michael Stafford, Cranbrook Institute of Science; Steven Rice, Michigan Wetlands Association; Alan Kehew*, Western Michigan University
Note: Ex-officio members are denoted by an asterisk.
Grant Trigger, RACER Trust; Michael Stephens, SCS Systems, LCC; Larry Stephens, Stephens Consulting Services, P.C.; Jim Milne, DEQ WRD; Andy LeBaron, DEQ WRD; Brant Fisher, MDEQ; Laura Young, IWR; Bonnie McGill, MSU; Brian AcMoody, Branch County Farm Bureau; Val Vail Shirley, Julian Vail, LCC
Wayne Wood chaired the meeting. Members and guests introduced themselves.
Program related news
The GAO is following up on a report issued to Congress in 2003 regarding freshwater supplies. Michigan is one of four states to be highlighted in the report. Dina Klemans and Jon Allan were interviewed by the GAO and WRD Chief Bill Creal responded to a survey for the report. MDEQ informed the GAO on several topics including modifications to Part 327 that incorporate Great Lakes Compact provisions and the need for additional stream gages and to enhance various data (e.g., groundwater mapping). Howard Reeves and Jon Bartholic were also interviewed for the report.
MDEQ is working on an annual report to the legislature on the Water Use Program. This includes statistics on well registrations and their corresponding ARI zones. If possible, MDEQ plans to report on this at the October Council meeting.
The Water Strategy is about to kick off several public engagement pieces. Invited conversations at the 10 Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) regions will take place this fall. The OGL is continuing its engagement with tribal nations and also collecting white papers from various agencies and institutions to inform the Water Strategy.
Public comment on agenda items
There was no public comment at this time.
"Compact Council Update" – Grant Trigger, Governor's Appointee to the Compact Council
Jon Allan introduced Grant Trigger, whose background is in environmental law and engineering. He is the only Compact Council appointee that works in the private sector, and he does not face the same constraints as other members (e.g., does not need approval from higher authority in a department to say/do something as the appointee).
This year's Council of Great Lakes Governors Leadership Summit was the first time in eight years that the Governors and Premiers met face to face as the Regional Body and Compact Council. The Regional Body consists of the eight Great Lakes Governors (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) and two Canadian Premiers (Ontario and Quebec). It conducts its business first and then the Compact Council meets. All eight Governors are also on the Compact Council but the representatives from Ontario and Quebec are not. Each Compact state is annually required to submit a Water Use Report, which is posted on the Council's website.
State Performance and Compact Influence
There is not uniform participation and support among the Compact states. Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin tend to have greater influence on the Council. Other states may be reluctant or delayed in support of their activities, which is discouraging because all states have an equal vote.
Minnesota has the strictest regulations on water use. Permits are required for withdrawals over 10,000 gallons per day (GDP) and some water conservation practices are mandatory. For instance, irrigators must install a device that automatically shuts off an irrigation system when it's raining. Wastewater treatment plants are also required to find ways to reuse discharge from their systems.
Illinois is quite different from the other states because public water supply volumes are controlled through permits in order to ensure compliance with the Supreme Court decree capping the total volume of the Chicago diversion. Their water rates have nearly doubled, which has driven more water conservation efforts there.
Mr. Trigger believes there's a noticeable change in conduct since the Compact's implementation. The Compact tends to create small competition between the states and encourages the adoption of conservation practices. Furthermore, the influence of the Compact has likely "flooded" over the basin's boundary. For example, water conservation measures adopted in a Great Lakes state will likely affect the entire state, not just the portion within the basin.
The anticipated request for diversion in Waukesha, WI, was discussed in depth. The city, which straddles the Lake Michigan and Mississippi watersheds, is currently relying on groundwater contaminated with radium and is under a federal court order to replace its water supply by 2018. It's anticipated that an application for diversion from Lake Michigan will be submitted next year, making it the first application to come through since the Compact Council was established.
Also discussed were intrabasin transfers in which water from one Great Lake is diverted to another (e.g., a diversion from Lake Superior to Lake Michigan). The City of Flint's pipeline from Lake Huron is not considered an intrabasin diversion but a withdrawal of over 5 million GPD.
There was a question about the public involvement process once an application for diversion reaches the Compact Council. The state, not the city/organization, submits the application. There must be at least one public meeting of the Compact Council held where the diversion is taking place. The host state should hold additional public meetings about the application as well.
Michigan is obligated to review an application but it's not clear if Michigan's vote is of the state as a whole or of the member/appointee. Mr. Trigger feels that it's critically important to seek organizational staff experience when reviewing an application, though it's not required or expected that other states will do the same.
The tribes and first nations were substantially engaged in the last year of development of the Compact and a parallel process was developed for them regarding diversions. Frank Ettawageshik asked when tribal engagement occurs during the review of an application. There are unique notices to tribes and first nations when an application is received, but tribes do not have a right to vote. Follow-up would be needed with the tribes and first nations after the notices are sent. The tribal conference caucus was mentioned as an option.
It was asked if there's a requirement or expectation to have multistate management of a watershed that crosses between states (e.g., St. Joseph watershed which crosses the Michigan/Indiana border). Grant will follow-up with his Indiana counterpart on this.
A question was also asked about the draft Cumulative Impact Assessment report, which is available for comment until December 5. This report, which summarizes the impacts of withdrawals across the basin, is due every five years. This is the first one to be written. Everyone at the meeting was encouraged to review the report and weigh in.
Jason Geer and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce were thanked for hosting the meeting.
Inland Lakes and Wetlands Charge
Proposed way forward
Work concerning inland lakes ARIs has appeared in multiple work groups. The Leadership Committee asked the Council about the best way to handle this challenging item and avoid duplication of effort. This area has been explored by past Councils, all of which were unable to find satisfactory solutions because of gaps in the research and the complexity of the issue. The statute includes provisions that address direct surface water withdrawals though the language is quite vague. An ARI for a lake/pond with a surface area of five acres or more is defined as "decreasing the level" to the point where the lake, or the uses of the lake, are impaired or destroyed. Large quantity withdrawals also cannot cause an ARI to waters of the state, which includes wetlands. Concern was expressed about tackling wetlands, which are even more complicated than lakes.
Council members were urged to not get completely hung up on the vague language in the statute, which was described as a placeholder standard for lakes. Progress has been made in the last five years and the Council needs to understand current advancements in research. Experts should be asked how they would define an ARI for a surface water body without being limited by the definition in the statute.
The Council was strongly encouraged to move forward on this issue. MDEQ does not have the option of delaying decision-making until the "perfect" tool is developed to fully assess ARIs on inland lakes. The Council needs to come up with alternatives to further the decision-making process in the short-term.
The Environmental Monitoring work group decided to move inland lakes/wetlands to their first task. Pat Soranno presented at their last meeting and provided an informative update on the current standing of lakes/wetlands research. Significant progress has been made with lake classification data. After Pat's presentation, the work group decided it would hold a few more meetings on the topic and then report back on what they've found. The group was willing to continue exploring the issue.
Several suggestions and comments arose during this discussion. One suggestion was to focus solely on inland lakes because they're directly mentioned in the statute and to restrict scope to items relating directly to lake levels. Others mentioned data precursors that must be in place to effectively handle this issue (e.g., network to measure lake stage, bathymetric data, natural variability and baselines for lakes). Could data that exist in the private domain be licensed to the state? Frank Ettawageshik added that tribal departments have collected some information on inland lakes in certain areas around the state.
It was requested that MDEQ further refine specific questions around this topic. What does the Department need answered to better its decision-making process? The Leadership Committee pulled together a list of general questions and considered convening an expert panel to address them. Jon Allan proposed sharing them initially with the Environmental Monitoring work group for further refinement and then bringing them back to the Council for review. Later, a panel could be convened to address the questions.
It was concluded that the Environmental Monitoring work group would use its next meeting to work with Dina Klemans on generating a list of general questions and experts on inland lakes and discuss a new plan to handle the topic within the Council. Council members were encouraged to send Dina Klemans additional feedback on taking a new approach. There was concern that the process would be slowed down by moving this issue to the full Council, especially considering the next meeting is not until October. Weighing-in on some of these issues via email may be necessary. Both the general questions and MDEQ's questions will be circulated prior to the October 14 meeting.
Work Group Updates
Frank Ruswick presented a recommendation on behalf of the Water Conservation Work Group. The recommendation included a process for responding to public comments on Michigan's Water Conservation and Efficiency program, a summary of the comments, and a matrix for addressing specific responses. The water conservation and efficiency program goes beyond the realm of this work group, which is why the recommendation designates responsibility of some comments to other work groups.
The Council concluded that the issues raised are already included within those to be addressed by the work groups and the Council as a whole. These issues will be addressed in the Council's final report planned for December 2015. The Council agreed that the most effective and efficient way of addressing the issues raised in public comment will be by addressing them as a group in that final report rather than piecemeal as individual issues come before the Council in the interim. The Council thought it best to leave the decision on whether and how to notify those that commented of this course of action to the MDEQ.
The Technical Underpinnings work group is exploring updating the map scale in the Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool from 1:100,000 to 1:24,000 and what technical issues would need to be overcome to do so. They will soon be examining the "bedrock pass" that created an administrative problem for MDEQ. By removing the bedrock pass, the basic premises of the WWAT as a screening tool may be undermined. The work group anticipates making recommendations to the Council on these issues relatively quickly. Their meetings have been scheduled out for the next three months and they potentially could have a draft recommendation on the 1:24,000 map scale by the next Council meeting.
The Environmental Monitoring co-chairs indicated their update was sufficiently covered by discussion during the "Inland Lakes/Wetlands Charge" agenda item.
The Water Users work group is closely examining the statute and coming to a common understanding of how it works and what is expected to happen with user committees. After that, the work group plans to develop a timeline with specific tasks. Pat Norris mentioned that all Council members need to have a firm and agreed upon understanding of "capacity vs. use," particularly as work groups collaborate. It was evident that people did not mean the same thing when using these terms. Clarification is needed.
Laura Campbell stated that some non-members did not know when and where work group meetings were taking place and recommended they be posted on the MDEQ website. MDEQ has been posting work group meeting details as they've come in but will follow-up to make sure the schedules are posted.
Public comment on non-agenda items
Larry Stevens, a consulting engineer, was very impressed with the Council. He stressed the importance of water reuse and the need for a Michigan strategy that addresses water reclamation, particularly with regards to the water/energy nexus. There's a tremendous amount of water used for energy, and he urged that potable water should not be used for non-potable uses. He wanted to submit a formal comment and asked about the process to do so. Jon Allan mentioned that there will be opportunities to provide comment on the broader Water Strategy during various sessions held around the state. Comments could also be submitted to the Water Conservation work group or to Dina Klemans who can send them to the appropriate officials.
1. October 14, 1:00 – 4:00 PM | MI Chamber of Commerce
2. December 9, 1:00 – 4:00 PM |TBD