August 24, 2015 Meeting Notes

Water Use Advisory Council Meeting Summary

Constitution Hall

Lansing, Michigan

August 24, 2015

 

Attendance

  • Members: Bryan Burroughs, Brian Eggers, George Carr, Robert Whitesides, David Lusch, Gary Dawson, Frank Ettawageshik, Tom Frazier, Scott Brown, Pat Norris, Dave Hamilton, Charles Scott, Pat Staskiewicz, Ben Russell, Andy Such
  • Alternates: Laura Campbell, Grenetta Thomassey, Shada Biabani, Mike Wenkel, Molly Maciejewski
  • Not Present: Erin McDonough, Gildo Tori, James Clift, Michael Newman, Carl Bednarski, Jim Byrum, Steve Hamilton, Michael Stafford, Steven Rice
  • Ex-Officio: Dan Wyant, Jon Allan, Dina Klemans
  • Alternates: Mark Sweatman, Abigail Eaton, Frank Ruswick, John Yellich, Ralph Haefner, Margaret Bettenhausen
  • Not Present: Matt Evans, Rich Bowman, Jon Scott, Judy Allen, Alan Kehew, Howard Reeves, Jon Barthollic, Jamie Clover Adams, Tammy Newcomb, Peter Manning
  • Guests: Shayna Petit, Larry Walton, Jim Milne, Aiman Shahpurwala, Emily Finnell, Tim Boring, Val Vail-Shirey, Aaron Rice, Tom Stanko

1. Welcome

The meeting began at 2:00 p.m.  Brian Eggers and Bryan Burroughs welcomed the WUAC members and guests.  Everyone introduced themselves.

2. Opening Remarks

Dan Wyant, Director, Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) gave some opening remarks and thanked the group for their participation.  He noted that Carl Bednarski, the new President of Farm Bureau, will be replacing Wayne Wood.  An internal State of Michigan Quality of Life Agencies work group worked on an implementation plan for the recommendations in the Water Use Advisory Council’s (WUAC) final report.  He noted that the DEQ implemented the WUAC’s first recommendation—to continue to convene the WUAC.  The WUAC will continue to meet on a regular, but less frequent, basis.  The DEQ will provide the WUAC with updates on its progress implementing the WUAC’s recommendations and solicit the WUAC’s feedback on its progress.  The WUAC’s feedback is important to keep the DEQ on track and to continue the dialog among the WUAC’s diverse membership.  Director Wyant characterized Water Use/Water Quality/Aquatic Invasive Species as being a three-legged stool of important water-related issues confronting Michigan.  He noted that Jon Allan has a separate presentation on the draft Water Strategy later in the meeting.

3. Draft Implementation Plan

Dina Klemans gave a PowerPoint presentation on the Quality of Life Agencies’ draft implementation plan.  The WUAC members received copies of the implementation plan via e‑mail; copies were also available as a handout.  She gave an overview of how the plan was put together; described what has already been implemented; discussed how the Quality of Life Agencies will move forward; and solicited the WUAC’s feedback on the plan.  The Quality of Life Agency work group consisted of staff from the DEQ, Executive Division; Office of the Great Lakes; Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance; and Water Resources Division; the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development; and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Fisheries Division.  The plan has four time frames:  (1) already initiated; (2) initiate within one year; (3) initiate within five years; and (4) initiate after five years.  The plan identifies which agencies have lead responsibility for implementing the recommendations, whether additional resources are needed, and key partners within the Quality of Life Agencies and federal agencies (i.e., United States Geological Survey). 

Eighteen recommendations have been initiated.  Draft procedures will be shared with the WUAC.  The Water Resources Division is also involved in a project to develop a groundwater monitoring plan, which includes a database.  Eight recommendations will be initiated within one year.  A pilot study is proposed to look at the practical implications of switching the Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool’s stream line work from the 1:100k to 1:24k National Hydrography Dataset layers.  The Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps) volunteers are being considered for doing screening level stream flow monitoring.  The Water Resources Division will also work on a process to bring unregistered, large quantity withdrawals that have been in operation since before 2008 into the program.  Twelve recommendations will be initiated within five years.  Limited funding is available for fiscal years 2015 and 2016 to implement some of the recommendations.  The Quality of Life Agencies will need longer-term funding to implement some of the recommendations.  Five recommendations will take longer than five years to initiate.  A total of 18 water conservation recommendations were broken out separately from the other recommendations because they will be addressed through, and be used to inform, the Water Strategy.  Dina Klemans referred to Jon Allan’s presentation where this would be further discussed.

Discussion

Some of the WUAC members expressed their appreciation of the specificity of the implementation plan and their support for the plan.

There was considerable discussion about funding to implement the WUAC’s recommendations.  The DEQ has limited Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) funding still available to begin implementing some of the recommendations.  CMI funding cannot be used for staff but can be used for equipment and contracts.  The DEQ may use some funding to contract with the MiCorps to implement some of the recommendations.

The DEQ will need additional funding to implement other recommendations.  The DEQ will need to be able to demonstrate progress in implementing the WUAC’s recommendations to receive additional funding to implement other recommendations.  The DEQ will need to go back to the WUAC to get its support for long-term funding from the Legislature and any external funding partners to implement other recommendations.

Some WUAC members expressed support for having the WUAC address topics that were identified in their final report as important but did not have time to address.  Cumulative downstream watershed depletion accounting is an example of one of these topics.  WUAC members who have tabled issues they want to work on will be asked to make presentations at the next WUAC meeting.  WUAC members who are interested in working on specific issues should notify the WUAC’s Leadership Committee, which will coordinate the efforts of WUAC members interested in the same subjects.

One WUAC member renewed his organization’s objections to some of the WUAC’s recommendations (e.g., TU 2.2 and TU 5.2).  He expressed concern that the DEQ will be seeking funding to implement recommendations over his organization’s objections.  The DEQ’s funding needs look at the big picture and are not linked to any one recommendation.  The DEQ will have further consultation with this organization before implementing certain recommendations.

Other discussion concerned water user groups and the implementation schedule for many of the related recommendations.  The DEQ does not consider water user groups likely to form right away but will begin to work on outreach to local water users and gathering information that will be needed for water user groups.  Implementing recommendations concerning water user groups is delayed by the need to implement other recommendations first.  It was noted that the Michigan Manufacturer’s Association is working with the DEQ to develop best practices for stakeholder involvement.  These best practices could be shared with local water users.

4. Water Strategy Update and Focus on Water Conservation

Jon Allan provided an update on the draft Water Strategy.  The implementation of some of the WUAC’s recommendations are tied in with the Water Strategy’s implementation.  Those WUAC recommendations are tie-barred to, not dumped into, the Water Strategy.  The WUAC’s recommendations are used to provide details.  The Water Strategy provides the big framework and the WUAC’s recommendations are a guide for implementing the Water Strategy.  Comments on the draft Water Strategy are due by August 28, 2015.  The final version of the Water Strategy should be done by the end of calendar year 2015.  The DEQ will release the revised Water Strategy but will not be making specific responses to individual comments.

Discussion

WUAC members asked Jon what is next for the Water Strategy.  The Water Strategy has 61 recommendations that need to be implemented.  One recommendation, real-time beach monitoring, has already been implemented.  The DEQ will be looking for external partnerships to implement the recommendations.  Changes to the septic code will require legislation.

Several WUAC members expressed support for the Water Strategy but also expressed some concerns about the draft strategy.  Some of the WUAC’s water conservation recommendations (e.g., developing state-specific water conservation goals) may get lost.  The draft strategy needs to have water conservation as a unifying concept or have a philosophical statement stressing the importance of water conservation.

It was pointed out that the Great Lakes Compact requires Michigan to practice water conservation.  But the Compact allows states to have voluntary water conservation measures.  Water conservation does need to have goals.

A WUAC member was concerned that deferring most of the WUAC’s water conservation recommendations to the Office of the Great Lakes creates the danger of having those recommendations fall through the cracks.  Identifying the Office of the Great Lakes as the lead for all the recommendations is a place holder.  The DEQ recognizes the importance of addressing water conservation as an integral part of the Water Strategy.

One WUAC member indicated that 6,000-7,000 inland lakes in Michigan are impacted by aquatic invasive species and that Michigan Lakes and Streams Association members pay $25 million per year to treat aquatic invasive species.  He questioned how the DNR’s goal to increase public access for recreational boating by 25 percent without requiring recreational boaters to pay their fair share of treating aquatic invasive species is reconciled.

There was also discussion on how we educate the public on water issues so they will support action.  The public who came to the public meetings on the Water Strategy were very engaged but their interests were very diverse.  The public who attended the public meetings are a very small percentage of the 9.8 million people in Michigan.  Part of the Water Strategy is an effort to build stewardship.  Culturally, the public does get the importance of water. 

WUAC members noted that there is a need for long-term funding sources to address water issues.

5. Next Meeting

Bryan Burroughs instructed the WUAC members to contact the WUAC’s leadership between now and the next WUAC meeting if they have issues they want to discuss.  The WUAC’s leadership will coordinate members who have similar issues.  The next WUAC meeting will be scheduled approximately six months from now.  Dina Klemans agreed to circulate an updated contact list to the WUAC members.

6. Wrap-Up and Adjourn

Laura Campbell stated that Farm Bureau sees having continuing discussions at the WUAC meetings as a real opportunity to make progress on outstanding issues.  The WUAC’s final report and implementation plan are not the end of the process.

The meeting was adjourned at 3:40 p.m.

Notes taken by: Jim Milne, DEQ