January 21, 2014 Meeting Notes

Demmer Center
4830 E Jolly Rd Lansing, MI 48910

Members or Alternates Attending:
Gary Dawson, Consumers Energy; Pat Staskiewicz, American Water Works Association (AWWA); Matt Evans, Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC); Dave Hamilton, The Nature Conservancy; James Clift, Michigan Environmental Council; Frank Ettawageshik, United Tribes of Michigan; Andy Such, Michigan Manufacturers Association; Tom Frazier, Michigan Townships Association; Michael Newman, 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 (SWMWC); Dave Lusch, MSU; Brian Eggers, Michigan Chamber of Commerce; Howard Reeves*, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS); Alan Kehew*, Western Michigan University; Jon Bartholic*, MSU Institute of Water Research (IWR); Frank Ruswick, IWR; Jon Allan*, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Office of the Great Lakes (OGL); Jim Johnson*, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD); Abby Eaton*, MDARD; Margaret Bettenhausen *, Department of Attorney General (DAG); Dina Klemans*, MDEQ Water Resources Division (WRD)

Members Absent:
Gildo Tori, Ducks Unlimited; Michael Stafford, Cranbrook Institute of Science; Charles Scott, Michigan Golf Course Owners; Wm. Scott Brown, Michigan Lake and Stream Associations; Steven Rice, Michigan Wetlands Association; Pat Norris, Michigan State University (MSU); Tammy Newcomb*, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

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

Others Attending
Curt Albright, Branch County Farm Bureau; Doug Bloom, Branch County Farm Bureau; Jim Milne, MDEQ WRD; Brant Fisher, MDEQ; Larry Walton, SWMWC; Aaron Rice, Rice Well Service; Larry Julian, Julian Vail; Bonnie McGill, MSU; Jon Yellich, Michigan Geological Survey; Bo Duncan, MSU; Najib Yamin, MSU; Laura Young, MSU.

Brian Eggers chaired the first portion of the meeting. The Technical Underpinnings recommendation discussion was moved to item 6a.

Program Related News
There was no program related news at this time.

Public Comment on Agenda Items
There was no public input at this time.

Michigan's geology: What do we know and what do we need to know to manage our groundwater resources?
Al Kehew, Western Michigan University

Al Kehew previously worked in North Dakota, where extensive aquifer mapping was conducted for each county. When he relocated to Michigan, he was surprised to find that Michigan lacked a systematic geologic mapping program with the same vigor as other states. Minnesota spends $1 million each year for its geological survey and Illinois boasts a very sophisticated program with 3D mapping capabilities staffed by 180 employees. Ontario also developed a very robust program.

Al provided a brief overview of bedrock and glacial geology in Michigan and then discussed available tools that can evaluate surficial and subsurface glacial deposits in Michigan. He started with the State Quaternary Map which is based off of a 1915 USGS map. This map does not have a high enough resolution to be used in site specific evaluations and may be inaccurate in certain areas. An example was shown where the map inaccurately categorizes an area in Calhoun County as an end moraine.

The Michigan Geological Survey (MGS) provides applied research and mapping for the state, unlike the old geological survey which focused solely on oil and gas mapping. The legislature has not allocated any funding to the MGS, severely limiting its capacity to expand its work and access federal funding. There are only two full time staff for the MGS. Several of its programs require a 1:1 federal to state match, presenting a challenge to the MGS to take full advantage of funding opportunities. Statemap is one of these programs, which conducts state geologic mapping at the 1:24,000 scale. The max grant for Statemap is $300,000, but the largest match the MGS has been able to support was $70,000. Having state support to access the additional funding would be extremely valuable. The MGS is also a member of the Great Lakes Geological Mapping Coalition, which includes the Great Lakes states, Ontario and the USGS as members. This program also has a 1:1 federal to state match. John Yellich, Michigan’s state geologist, reiterated the need for additional support for the MGS.

MGS consults several different data sources. They may conduct field visits to surface exposures or review available LiDAR data, which can be used to produce high resolution digital elevation models (DEM). LiDAR data are not available for the entire state of Michigan and are costly to produce. High quality subsurface data can also be collected using rotosonic drilling and gamma ray logging. The drilling produces cores of glacial and bedrock material for analysis. The Michigan Geological Repository for Research and Education (MGREE) and the MGS house Michigan’s collections of rock cores. The collection contains over 500,000 feet of cores from 25,000 wells.

Wellogic is Michigan’s database for water well records. While the database is extremely valuable, it does not provide data that are appropriate for MGS’ purposes. The data in Wellogic can vary greatly in data quality, may contain errors such as mis-located wells, or are not present where MGS need them. Another issue is that there are at least 20 ways to describe glacial till, complicating MGS’ mapping.

Constructing a stratigraphic framework can be helpful in locating productive aquifers. Al discussed an example where the MGS was analyzing tunnel valleys in Barry and Ionia Counties. Tunnel valleys, which typically make good aquifers, form as rock is eroded by flowing meltwater underneath a glacier. Al found that one tunnel valley was not a suitable aquifer while another one was quite productive. However, these differences were not reflected in the Groundwater Mapping Project (GWMP) data.

Al offered a list of what would enhance aquifer mapping in the state. The first was to work with well drillers to revise the entry forms for Wellogic so till is easily reported. The second was to require all continuously logged cores to be saved at MGS. The third was to identify all confined aquifers, which do not affect streams, and exclude them from the WWAT. The fourth was to expand mapping and drilling efforts by MGS. The fifth was to acquire LiDAR coverage for the entire state. The last suggestion was to initiate 3D mapping in priority areas of the state.

Al was asked to prioritize this list and provide estimates of each task. He indicated there was a great deal of uncertainty in doing this, but noted that LiDAR has previously cost about $1 million for one county. Howard Reeves noted that the USGS may be able to develop LiDAR data for the entire state if enough stakeholders outside the water realm get behind it. These tasks will require additional full time staff.

To wrap-up his discussion, Al highlighted geologic mapping efforts from Denmark. Denmark, which has very similar geology to Michigan, depends entirely on groundwater for its freshwater supply. The entire country is being mapped using Transient Electromagnetic (TEM) technology. This process utilizes magnetic fields to detect subsurface deposits. Denmark has discovered several buried valleys using this technology including the depth of the valleys and the nature of their materials. It was found that over half of the country’s wells were located in the buried valleys. North American companies are beginning to use this technology, though it is very expensive.

Several questions were asked including where site-specific geologic data are needed. Al believes site- specific data should be available for all permit applications, but recognizes the enormous amount of effort, resources and time needed for this. It was also asked whether surface flow tends to follow subsurface flow. In general, subsurface flow will follow the topography of the surface. In areas where the aquifer is confined (i.e., completely isolated from the surface) it will not affect streamflow.

Procedural Topics for Discussion
Additional recommendation guidance

Brian Burroughs chaired this portion of the meeting. He noted that additional recommendation guidance was distributed prior to the meeting. The guidance proposed an improved, two-tiered process for efficiently discussing and vetting recommendations. Tier I discussions would focus solely on the recommendation and why it’s critical and better than other alternatives. Tier II discussions would focus on implementation aspects of a recommendation once all recommendations have been vetted and are ready for prioritization. The Council agreed to implement this process.

Timeline and pacing of activities
The Leadership Committee thought this was a good time to reflect on the Council’s overall progress since MDEQ Director Dan Wyant only appointed the Council for two years. The final report is due in December and given this deadline, a rough timeline for Council activities was discussed for the year. It was suggested that all Tier I discussions be completed by the August 19 Council meeting. Tier II discussions would take place in September and October. The draft report would be discussed at the November meeting, leaving December for the final report.

In creating this suggested timeline, all work plans and charges were reviewed to assess the total number of tasks to be completed. Forty-two total tasks were identified, though this is a mere estimate as some work groups lumped tasks while others split them up. There has been known progress on 10 tasks. One task has been completed and one task is near completion.

It was requested that work groups revisit their work plans and assess their progress. They should determine if they will be able to complete their tasks before December or whether they need to change their priorities and work plan. Work groups should discuss this at their next meeting. At the February 18, 2014, meeting work groups should report back to the Council about their progress and state whether any changes were made to their work plans.

James Clift viewed the December report as an interim report and strongly urged MDEQ to continue utilizing the Council in the future. Dina Klemans explained that the Department finds the Council to be extremely valuable and would like recommendations on how to continue the Council following the two- year appointment. Several others voice support for the Council continuing after 2014. Andy Such suggested at least getting all Tier I objectives completed by December. Frank Ettawageshik noted that recommendations from previous Councils highlighted the need for ongoing oversight. It took some time for this Council to get going, partly because of the large gap in time between Councils. Having some type of continued Council presence should be part of the final report. He also noted that Council members are volunteering a significant amount of time to complete this work and suggested putting a value on what the Council is donating to the process.

Frank Ruswick suggested the Council consider holding longer or multi-day meetings later this year. It’s likely that numerous Tier I recommendations won’t be ready until the summer and that Tier II discussions will be lengthy. The Council decided to discuss this at the February 18 meeting once work groups review their work plans.

Wrap-up 1:24,000 Map Scale Recommendation Discussion
The Technical Underpinnings work group revisited their map scale recommendation. An updated handout was provided to the Council ahead of time that included additional background information. To clarify from the December Council meeting, the National Hydrology Dataset (NHDH) utilizes the 1:24,000 USGS topographic quadrangle map that involved on the ground determinations of intermittent and perennial streams. Furthermore, the work group found that relying solely on aerial photography (e.g., Google Earth) to determine whether a stream is perennial or intermittent is not sufficient.

The work group maintained its recommendation to update the map scale in the WWAT to 1:24,000, remove all intermittent streams from the WWAT’s hydrography dataset, and to complete it in a phased process, focusing on priority areas first. In certain areas of the state, perennial and intermittent streams have been correctly categorized. No concrete alternatives have been proposed to address the intermittent stream issue. The work group does not believe it is practical to conduct another field check of more recent aerial photography, nor does it support relying on the current process to remove intermittent streams on a case by case basis during site specific review (SSR). The WWAT is a vital part of the Water Use Program because it is a screening tool and reduces the burden for MDEQ staff. Waiting to address the intermittent stream issue is going to create unnecessary stress to the program as SSRs increase.

George Carr did not support the phased approach of this recommendation. He felt that this would unfairly imply that water rights of some users were more important in certain areas of the state than others. He wanted to see this recommendation implemented all at once instead of in piecemeal. James Clift felt that the phased approach is appropriate given the fact MDEQ is making decisions now with or without the updated dataset. Taking care of the priority areas will ensure more users receive accurate determinations. The Council felt these issues were more appropriate for Tier II discussions.

George Carr also wanted to see more emphasis given to real-time data brought forward by water users in the recommendation. He noted that a stream in the WWAT is located in the middle of a well driller’s parking lot. Dave Hamilton stated that there is already a process in place to handle such discrepancies. Intermittent streams are currently removed from the WWAT or are truncated during SSRs. Frank Ettawageshik commented that the current process to remove intermittent streams appears to create extra hurtles for applicants. He suggested wording the recommendation in such a way as to give added strength and power to evidence that indicates a stream is intermittent. Bryan Burroughs noted that this issue is being addressed by the Environmental Monitoring Work Group.

George Carr offered to come to consensus on only the 1:24,000 map scale change but not the phased approach. Bryan Burroughs emphasized that the Council is striving for consensus and asked the Council for a consensus vote on the entire written recommendation as is, including the phased approach. The Council approved the recommendation but did not reach complete consensus. George Carr was the only member to oppose. Bryan Burroughs requested that George Carr provide a write-up for his justifications to include in the final report.

Work Group Updates
Technical Underpinnings
The work group is nearing completion of tasks 2 and 3 regarding calculating depth to bedrock in the WWAT and the bedrock pass. One recommendation for both is expected to be ready for the February meeting. A recommendation on the withdrawal allocation between water management areas will likely be ready for March.

Inland Lakes ARI
Laura Campbell and Jim Milne were selected as co-chairs. The work group is in the process of looking at the current state of available inland lake data and has reviewed the work compiled earlier by the Environmental Monitoring work group. They also heard a presentation from Lori Fuller, USGS. The work group has found that using a biological response for inland lake ARIs as done for streams is not possible at this time. Their proposed work plan, which was distributed prior to the Council meeting, was reviewed. They have ten total tasks. They originally planned to have seven of them completed by August but noted they would do their best to finish by September. The Council approved of the work plan.

A few questions and comments were asked about the work plan. Robert Whitesides commented on item 4d of their work plan, which dealt with how much drawdown is too much for docks, navigation or other uses. This is a major concern in southwest Michigan and he felt it needed its own task, instead of being lumped in with environmental concerns. Al Kehew asked if the work group considered lake augmentation wells. The work group believes most of these are connected with legally defined lake levels and did not consider them further. Frank Ettawageshik noted that a Michigan inland lakes convention will take place in May.

Water Users
Ben Russell provided a brief update on behalf of the work group. Their next meeting is on January 28. He feels the group is making progress, particularly on the educational water users committees. He doesn’t suspect a recommendation will be ready on this in February, but they are making progress.

Water Conservation
The work group expects to wrap up discussions about different water use sectors this month. Data collection for water conservation programs in other states should be completed by February. They anticipate scheduling a second meeting soon to revise their work plan. Future discussions will likely focus on whether or not Michigan should do more to promote water conservation, and if so, what should the state pursue. The work group has not reached a point where they are ready to begin drafting findings and recommendations.

Environmental Monitoring
At their December meeting, Dr. Hyndman from MSU presented on his study in the Au Sable area. Their last meeting focused on beginning to draft recommendations on streamflow. They will "lump" their streamflow recommendations together, which will likely be ready in March. Research on groundwater data will be discussed at their next meeting.

Other Business
Wayne Wood chaired this portion of the meeting. James Clift noted that the state has a budget surplus this year and suggested that the Council make a soft recommendation to the MDEQ Director to pursue some additional funding for the Water Use Program. It is clear that the program needs an influx of support including technical upgrades and staff. Wayne Wood asked whether making a soft recommendation to the Director was the Council’s role. Does the Council have something specific that the money would be used for? The Governor will want to know when the money will be spent, how, and what the expected results are. James Clift suggested that the Council start early as the surplus funds will be allocated before the Council completes its work. It was decided to add this issue to the February 18 agenda. George Carr noted that he may be in competition with the request as he seeks additional funding for well inspections.

Jon Allan indicated that the Water Strategy recommendations will be completed by March and that the Water Strategy would like to work with the Council for further recommendations on groundwater.

Public Comment on non-agenda items
There was no public comment at this time.

Next meetings

February 18, 1:00-4:00 PM |
MI Farm Bureau
Lansing, MI

March 18, 12:00-4:00 PM *Note the start time is changed from 1:00 to 12:00|
Lansing TBD

April 15, 1:00-4:00 PM

May 20, 1:00-4:00 PM

June 17, 1:00-4:00 PM | Dow Chemical Midland, MI

July 15, 1:00-4:00 PM

August 19, 1:00-4:00 PM

September 16, 1:00-4:00 PM

October 21, 1:00-4:00 PM

November 18, 1:00-4:00 PM

December 16, 1:00-4:00 PM

George Carr suggested moving the November 18, 2014, meeting to before the 15th.


All work groups should review their work plans and update them if needed. Work groups should be prepared to discuss any changes made to their work plans in February.