February 2, 2016 Meeting Notes

February 2, 2016, Meeting Notes

WATER USE ADVISORY COUNCIL

Michigan Farm Bureau Headquarters
7373 West Saginaw Highway, Lansing, Michigan 48917

Members or Alternates Attending:

  • Brian Eggers:  Michigan Chamber of Commerce
  • Dr. Gary Dawson:  Consumers Energy 
  • Robert Whitesides, Dr. Steve Hamilton:  Kalamazoo River Watershed Council 
  • Tim Boring for Jim Byrum:  Michigan Agri-Business Association 
  • Abby Eaton for Jamie Clover Adams*:  Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD)
  • Dina Klemans*:  Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ)
  • Emily Finnell for Jon Allan*:  MDEQ, Office of the Great Lakes
  • Dr. Tammy Newcomb*:  Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR)
  • James Clift:  Michigan Environmental Council
  • Carl Bednarski, Laura Campbell:  Michigan Farm Bureau
  • John Yellich*:  Michigan Geological Survey (MGS)
  • George Carr:  Michigan Ground Water Association
  • Dr. Dave Lusch, Frank Ruswick, Dr. Jon Bartholic,* Dr. Patricia Norris:  Michigan State University (MSU)
  • Pat Staskiewicz:  Michigan Section American Water Works Association
  • Ben Russell:  Southwest Michigan Water Resources Council
  • Mike Wenkel:  The Michigan Potato Industry Commission
  • Dave Hamilton:  The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
  • Dr. Ralph Haefner*:  United States Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Frank Ettawageshik:  United Tribes of Michigan

 

Note:  Ex-officio members are denoted by an asterisk.

Members Absent:

  • Michael Stafford:  Cranbrook Institute of Science
  • Gildo Tori:  Ducks Unlimited
  • Shada Biabani:  Michigan Aggregates Association
  • Peter Manning,*:  Michigan Department of Attorney General
  • Charles Scott:  Michigan Golf Course Owners Association
  • Wm. Scott Brown:  Michigan Lake and Stream Associations
  • Andy Such:  Michigan Manufacturers Association
  • Thomas Frazier:  Michigan Townships Association
  • Bryan Burroughs:  Michigan Trout Unlimited
  • Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC)
  • Steven Rice:  Michigan Wetlands Association
  • Grenetta Thomassey:  Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council
  • Dr. Alan E. Kehew:  Western Michigan University

Others Attending

  • Brian AcMoody:  Branch County Farm Bureau
  • Shayna Petit, Laura Young, Jeremiah Asher:  MSU, Institute of Water Research (IWR)
  • Larry Julian:  Julian Vail, LLC
  • Jim Milne:  MDEQ
  • Elizabeth Gulotty:  MDNR
  • Aaron Rice:  Prairie River Users Group
  • Aiman Shahpurwala, Taylor Hollis:  Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe

Welcome

Brian Eggers chaired the meeting and introduced Carl Bednarski, President, Michigan Farm Bureau, who replaces Wayne Wood as member and one of the tri-chairs.  All attendees introduced themselves.

Program-Related News

Jim Milne presented year 6 (July 2014-July 2015) Water Use Program statistics.  Tables and figures have been added to the current format of the report.  The irrigation total in Table 2 includes registrations that were later replaced by a new registration, canceled, or retracted by the water user.  The irrigation total in Table 3 deducts these changed registrations.  Site-specific reviews (SSRs) year 4 backlog has been eliminated and year 5 has been reduced.  Applications may be withdrawn and denials are larger due to more complicated procedures and less available water.  When denied, applicants are given different options and MDEQ staff will work with them.

Dina Klemans announced Bill Creal’s retirement and that the MDEQ has a new Director, Keith Creagh.  No changes to the WUAC are expected.  All members and nonmembers were asked to send any contact information updates to Denise Page.

The MDEQ’s draft SSR Process Steps guidance document that was sent to the Environmental Monitoring and Technical Underpinnings Work Groups for their comments last December is undergoing significant revisions based on substantive comments received from these work groups.  A revised draft will be sent to the whole council for its comments.

Public Comment on Agenda Items

There were no public comments.

Update on Implementation of WUAC Recommendations

Dina Klemans distributed a table that shows progress/comments on the WUAC recommendations.  It was noted that some activities cover multiple recommendations.  Specific items highlighted in the table were discussed with the following ideas being proposed for Quality of Life (QOL) agency consideration:

  • Use of volunteer streamflow data in decision making;
  • Training for volunteer streamflow monitoring;
  • Include a ground-truthing element in the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) pilot project;
  • Sponsor groups had questions and concerns about permit requirements for crowd source hydrology projects.  DEQ WRD staff noted that Crowd Hydrology projects fit under the Part 301 General Permit category for scientific investigations, which has a $50 permit application fee, no public notice requirement and one permit application for a Crowd Hydrology project can cover multiple measurement locations;
  • Share information on the Cass County Pilot Study as it is being collected rather than only at the end of the pilot project.
  • Dave Lusch discussed the following:

 

(1)    Since about 1/3 of the budget for this project is being funded by the state of Michigan, it seems to be appropriate that the state (through the MDEQ) insist that a detailed plan of work be submitted for review prior to the start-up of the study.  The plan of work must demonstrate that the data collection, analysis, and modeling efforts proposed can explicitly answer the question of exactly where the groundwater intercepted by the pumping wells came from (see point 3, below).

(2)    The MDEQ should empanel a work group composed of experts in groundwater modeling to review the proposed plan of work and, if necessary, suggest alternative methods to those originally proposed.  It is strongly recommended that the work group include at least one groundwater modeling expert from the USGS Michigan-Ohio Water Science Center (Chris Hoard and Howard Reeves are currently on the Technical Advisory Group for the pilot study).

(3)    In order for the Cass County Pilot Study to significantly advance the science associated with the Water Withdrawal Assessment Program, the groundwater model and the data to populate it must be capable of answering this central question:  for all of the pumping wells included in the pilot study, exactly where did the groundwater come from that was intercepted by these wells?  Previous studies in southwest Michigan have collected data that show that the pumping well(s) had little significant impact on nearby streams.  Such efforts, while potentially helpful to prospective large quantity withdrawal registrants in the region, are silent on the seminal science question plaguing the Water Use Program:  if these withdrawals did not deplete the index flows of the nearby streams, just where in the landscape did the water come from?  By statute, the Water Use Program must account for these withdrawals, but which streams the depletions should be apportioned to, is the key hydrogeologic problem.
 

Review of Draft Information Guide on Water Withdrawal Decision Process

 

Jim Milne requested to have comments regarding the Draft Information Guide submitted to him by February 19, 2016.  The Information Guide includes four parts (Large Quantity Withdrawal [LQW] Registrations, Replacement of an Existing LQW, Submittal of Additional Site Information, Permit Application), a glossary, and Water Use Program staff contact information.  The draft emphasizes the responsibilities of the well driller (submitting copies of the well log) and the property owner (reporting differences between what was authorized by the WWAT or SSR and how the well was completed and operated to the MDEQ.  Comments were previously received from members of the Environmental Monitoring and Technical Underpinnings Work Groups but no additional comments were subsequently received from other council members.

Coordination on New Activities Initiated Outside QOL Agencies

Brian Eggers asked council members interested in working on issues outside of the scope of the approved recommendations in the council’s final report to notify the council leadership, who will form an ad hoc work group.  The work group will inform members via e‑mail.  To date, no ad hoc work groups have been formed.

Interest was expressed in working on a project to bring water users into the program who haven’t registered their LQWs but are required to under law.

Waukesha Diversion Proposal Update

Emily Finnell handed out a timeline for Michigan’s review of Wisconsin’s notification of the Great Lakes Compact Council and Regional Body of a diversion proposal for Waukesha.  Key dates were highlighted [February 9 – public meeting; March 1 – public comment period closes; March 11 – Governor’s Office briefing of technical review; March 22 – Michigan submittal of technical review comments; April 21-22—Regional Body (Great Lakes states plus the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec) working session; May 10—Regional Body meets for its final recommendation to the Great Lakes Compact Council; mid-June—final meeting and vote by Compact Council].  Michigan and other Great Lakes Basin states and provinces are having ongoing consultations with the Wisconsin DNR to get their questions about the proposed diversion answered.  For more information, visit the Web site at michigan.gov/waterdiversion.

Water Strategy Update

Public comments were received that are requiring more than simple edits.  In trying to reduce the size of this document, some sections were removed that need to be replaced.  The date for the final Water Strategy is uncertain but possibly revisions will be completed by June for an internal review (not additional public comment).  Please give Emily suggestions on how to implement strategy.

Similarities were noted between the draft Water Strategy and the council’s recommendations on water conservation.  The Water Strategy’s recommendations will be refined to incorporate some of the council’s recommendations.  Examples include developing specific work plans and integrating the work of the council and initiating internal DEQ discussions to leverage existing conservation programs now.

There is interest in developing state-specific water conservation goals.  Pat Staskiewicz plans to follow up with other council members.

Other Business

There was no other business discussed at this time.

Public comment on non-agenda items

There was no public comment at this time.

Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held in September 2016.

Adjourn