May 20, 2014 Meeting Notes

Michigan Farm Bureau Headquarters
7373 W. Saginaw Highway
Lansing, MI 48917

Members or Alternates Attending
Gary Dawson, Consumers Energy; Pat Staskiewicz, American Water Works Association; Molly Robinson, (AWWA); Dave Hamilton, The Nature Conservancy; Charles Scott, Michigan Golf Course Owners; 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 (KRWC); Pat Norris, Michigan State University (MSU); Dave Lusch, MSU; Brian Eggers, Michigan Chamber of Commerce; Lisa Fogarty *, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS); Alan Kehew*, Western Michigan University; Frank Ruswick, MSU; Jon Allan*, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) Office of the Great Lakes (OGL); Abby Eaton*, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD); Tammy Newcomb*, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR); Dina Klemans*, MDEQ; John Yellich, Michigan Geological Survey.

Members Absent
Erin McDonough, Michigan United Conservation Clubs; Frank Ettawageshik, United Tribes of Michigan; Tom Frazier, Michigan Townships Association; Ben Russell, Southwest Michigan Water Resources Council (SWMWRC); Gildo Tori, Ducks Unlimited; James Clift, Michigan Environmental Council; Wm. Scott Brown, Michigan Lake and Stream Associations; Andy Such, Michigan Manufacturers Association; Steven Rice, Michigan Wetlands Association; Dr. Michael Stafford, Cranbrook Institute of Science; Michael Newman, Michigan Aggregates Association; Margaret Bettenhausen *, Department of Attorney General (DAG)

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

Others Attending
Greg Anderson, Western Michigan University- Up John Center; Jim Milne, MDEQ; Larry Julian, Julian Vail; Brockton Feltman, MSU; David Peterson, Helena Township Clerk; Brant Fisher, MDEQ; Aiman Shahpurwala; Laura Young, MSU.

Welcome and Introductions
Brian Eggers chaired the beginning of the meeting and thanked Michigan Farm Bureau for hosting again.

Program Related News
The June 17 Council meeting will be held at Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers in St. Johns, Michigan. Details regarding the location will be sent out via email prior to the meeting.

The Southwest Michigan Water Resources Council (SWMWRC) submitted their final report to MDEQ Director Dan Wyant in April. The report includes items that the SWMWRC recommended the Water Use Advisory Council consider. The report will be distributed via email to the Council.

Jon Allan mentioned that the Governors and Premiers met in Chicago in early May. The regional portfolio they are developing includes a concept on how to monitor and manage the Great Lakes system as a whole. Tim Eder and Paul Seelbach presented on this blue accounting system. The Council and the Michigan Water Strategy have clear linkages to this larger regional work.

Tammy Newcomb shared that the MDNR submitted a proposal for a federal grant to continue the services of the Fisheries Division for mapping work. They are also working on a project to investigate the impacts withdrawals may have on stream temperature.

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

Southwest Michigan water Resources Council Final Report
Ben Russell was unable to attend the meeting. This item will be discussed at the June 17 meeting.

WUAC Final Report Outline and Timeline
The Leadership Committee began drafting an outline of the Council’s final report, which was distributed prior to the meeting. In order to produce a fairly concise report, the recommendations and work products coming out of the Council are the main focus. Currently, recommendations in the outline are organized by work group area, but this may change as Council work progresses. It was noted that the specific recommendations listed under each work group only represent those known to the Leadership Committee. Work group products (e.g., water users guidance book table of contents) will be summarized in the report and fully included in the appendices. Links to work plans and meeting summaries will also be included in the appendices.

The background sections of the final report will soon be drafted so they can be reviewed prior to more complex discussions (e.g., Tier II prioritization). Two weeks was suggested as the timeframe for Council members to review sections of the report. Council members are encouraged to review the outline and send any comments to the Leadership Committee.

Work Group Updates
Technical Underpinnings
Dave Hamilton gave an in-depth presentation on behalf of the work group. The components of the Water Withdrawal Assessment Process (WWAP) were reviewed. One component is the internet-based Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool (WWAT). Prior councils agreed that water withdrawals could be authorized with confidence using a conservative, automated screening tool. Another component is the site specific review (SSR) process, which examines the water resources available at a specific location. A third component is the water management area (WMA) accounting system, which keeps track of available water. There are 5589 WMAs and each has a certain amount of available water above the adverse resource impact (ARI) line. Registrations debit from available water for each WMA and the system keeps track of all the changes. MDNR Fisheries Division Special Report 55 highlights many of aspects of the WWAP in detail.

A diagram was presented that demonstrated the 50% safety factor. When a withdrawal is being reviewed in SSR, the 50% safety factor is removed and new estimations are calculated using the best available information. The new estimations are used for that WMA going forward in the accounting system. For WMAs without many registrations, they are likely still operating with the safety factor in place.

Certain features in the WWAP are set standards. This includes the definition of index flow, stream classification system, defined ARI and risk management zones, and the WMAs. There are 11 different stream classifications based on size and temperature. Each classification has a different response curve for how a withdrawal will impact the characteristic fish populations. At every proposed withdrawal location, the index flow, streamflow depletion, cumulative depletion for the WMA, corresponding risk zone and appropriate action must be determined. The WWAP evaluates how a groundwater withdrawal, streamflow and a fish community interact. Note that in SSR, the impact a withdrawal may have can be refined using other models, tools or data.

The withdrawal model in the WWAT is an analytical model. It pulls aquifer properties from the Michigan Groundwater Mapping Project and automatically determines where the closest streams are. It then allocates the impact a withdrawal may have among them and estimates the reduction in flow based upon the withdrawal. Note, all models in the WWAT have been peer reviewed but the system has not been validated. John Yellich noted that it would be vital to verify bedrock valleys, which may not be accurately represented on the Michigan geologic map within the WWAT, using geologic drill data verification or geophysics in conjunction with drilling information.

A large part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula receives groundwater from the bedrock Saginaw and Marshall Formation aquifers that are not well connected to streams. In other areas in the Lower Peninsula, the bedrock aquifers are too saline to be potable. Recognizing these facts, an automated process was used to automatically pass bedrock withdrawals in areas that are isolated from the surface or typically not used for high capacity withdrawals. In areas where the bedrock aquifer may be connected with the streams, calculations are run using bedrock properties. However, issues with the bedrock pass occurred in areas with deep glacial valleys and the bedrock pass was removed. The work group has already proposed two recommendations to address this and is working on a new map to identify areas where the bedrock aquifer is isolated from the surface to bring. They expect this will allow the bedrock pass to be reinstituted.

The streamflow model makes predictions for each WMA in the state. It is a regression model that is based on size, location, geology (which may project what is beneath the surface using generalized terms and may not represent the true geologic and hydrogeologic conditions in a WMA), soils, land use, and precipitation for each WMA. The work group is reviewing whether this is the best model to use for the WWAT and investigating other models that may be appropriate for SSRs.

Within the WWAT, users are able to pull up information for each WMA including how much water is available. Once a user inputs the required information for a withdrawal, the WWAT will determine the home and neighboring WMAs based upon the user-specified location and all of the stream segments in those WMAs. Streamflow depletion will be calculated using inverse distance weighting. The half max rule filters out very small neighboring streams or those that are too far away from the withdrawal. Only those WMAs where depletions greater than half of the maximum depletion from all the neighboring WMAs are adjusted in the accounting database. The Hunt model estimates streamflow depletion from each WMA. Transmissivity, storage and streambed conductance are estimated from the Groundwater Mapping Project. The work group is investigating whether this is the best method to use. Currently, water from the smaller streams is not reallocated in the accounting database, which is another issue the work group will examine.

The work group will examine procedures and criteria for revising index flows in SSR including how streamflow data are used in the process. They will also discuss whether the streamflow regression model needs to be updated or replaced by an alternate hydrology model. The Council was asked to inform the work group if they knew of statewide models for estimating stream flow. In terms of groundwater modeling, the work group will examine additional groundwater modeling resources for SSRs. They will also investigate developing regional groundwater models for areas where more information is needed (e.g., Southwest Michigan) to better define the water resources.

It was emphasized that SSRs can take into account any pertinent data when making a decision on a proposed withdrawal besides what is available in the WWAT. A few examples were highlighted of how proposed withdrawals were approved through the SSR process. For example, in certain situations a SSR could determine that an extensive clay layer isolates a stream from an aquifer. John Yellich was concerned that the SSR process is not consistent in standard types of data required to conduct an SSR. To better assess stream impacts, he called for a standardized approach for acquiring and reviewing data to minimize the impact on MDEQ staff in conducting their review. He also suggested providing the permittee with guidelines for data acquisition and projecting what their success will be in the process.

There are a few topics that the work group does not anticipate having time to address. This includes stream classifications and fish response models, return flow accounting and downstream accounting for withdrawals, how use and capacity are used in the WWAP, and how to handle short-term large quantity withdrawals.

The work group invited Greg Anderson of the Upjohn Center at Western Michigan University (WMU) to discuss a possible streamlined process for flagging intermittent streams in the WWAT. WMU scanned topographic maps for the entire state of Michigan using high-tech scanners. They are running trials to see if they can pull the blue stream layer off of the maps. Their initial trials were fairly successful. This process would be more effective if they could get the USGS map separates for the stream layer. This scanned layer would get the hydrology data from the topographic maps and make it much easier to separate out perennials from intermittent streams. Ron Lofton of USGS may be a potential contact for this. George Carr noted that he still objects to the 1:24,000 map scale change on the grounds that the data are from the 1980s.

Environmental Monitoring
The work group finalized their streamflow recommendations since the last Council meeting. They are continuing to make progress on their groundwater monitoring discussions and have started to outline potential recommendations. They expect to work on groundwater recommendations for about two months before moving onto a collection of smaller, less complex topics. They will be ready for another in depth presentation on their groundwater work this summer.

Inland Lakes
The work group revised their recommendations brought forward at the last Council meeting. They are continuing discussions on developing a framework for determining an ARI from a direct withdrawal. They are also continuing to refine how to prioritize lakes for MDEQ staff. Kevin Wehrly of MDNR Fisheries, who has been a tremendous help to the work group, is continuing to put data together.

Water Users
The work group is carefully examining the specific tasks that came with their work group charge. They will meet again before the next Council meeting. They anticipate having preliminary recommendations to share with the Council in June including draft guidance for effectively establishing and operating a water users group. They also anticipate providing recommendations that are not specifically covered in their charge (e.g., identifying all large quantity water users in a watershed), but will help address issues.

Water Conservation
The work group is continuing to meet on a monthly basis. They have reached agreement on all of their charges and are in the drafting stage now. The work group is aiming to present their final report at the July meeting, but it may need to be pushed to August.

Tier I Recommendations Streamflow Recommendations
Wayne Wood chaired this portion of the meeting. The Environmental Monitoring work group brought forth the seven recommendations introduced at the April Council meeting. It was noted that the summary section at the beginning of the document uses abridged language. Bryan Burroughs asked for questions, comments, and concerns on the recommendations.

Robert Whitesides recommended changing the language in their first recommendation to refer to withdrawals instead of water use. There were no comments on the second recommendation. The third recommendation calls for the development of standardized protocols and standards for streamflow data collection. The work group envisions a tiered system of acceptable data for use in the WWAP, but given the time it would take to develop the protocols, the work group proposed that MDEQ work with stakeholders to do so. The protocols would lay out where data can and can’t be used in the WWAP. They would also clearly spell out other requirements for data (e.g., if 10 years of records would be required). It was noted that it would be helpful if the work group provided minimal suggestions in the recommendation regarding credential time, equipment and other factors.

Much discussion was generated around their fourth recommendation which deals with incorporating new streamflow data (that meets standards set from recommendation 3) to update index flow estimations in the WWAP. Dave Lusch voiced concerns about the wording of the recommendation. It was not clear to him whether this would include single point in time measurements and he encouraged the work group to include verbiage that indicates single point in time measurements would not have enough weight to change index flow predictions. Note that the Technical Underpinnings work group will be discussing weighting in the decision-making process. Dave Lusch also suggested placing a period at the end of process and removing the parenthetical. Jon Allan noted that previous councils intended there to be opportunities to collect data and use them to update index flows for an adaptable scientific model and suggested the work group more clearly define those opportunities. He also suggested removing the word "prompt" and defining a specific timeframe. Dave Lusch suggested quarterly.

George Carr suggested that the work group first spell out the protocols before defining how the data could be utilized. He also noted that registrants may not be aware that index flows could be updated in the WWAP. Updating index flows could impact current users. Pat Norris noted this issue has also come up in her work group. Dina Klemans appreciated the discussion on this issue and encouraged the Council to continue to consider these connected issues going forward. The work group was also asked about how to communicate these issues to users and work with them to rollout updates.

The remaining recommendations were not discussed at length. The Council was not ready to come to consensus on these recommendations. Bryan Burroughs requested that Council members provide detailed comments on their recommendations to the work group so they can revise them for June.

Quality Assurance and Control Protocols for Collecting Lake Bathymetric Data
The recommendations presented were similar to what they presented at the April Council meeting. The issues section was refined to explicitly state the recommendations are for direct withdrawals only. The recommendations call for the MDNR and MDEQ to work in concert as MDNR develops protocols for collecting bathymetric data and that the MDEQ develop training modules for existing MiCorps programs.

Equipment is often shared between organizations in MiCorps and many are participating in cooperative lakes monitoring. There is a registration fee for lake associations depending on which module they are taking. The MDEQ is working on a tiered strategy so that organizations do not have to be paying members to access the information. Tammy Newcomb suggested giving those conducting monitoring on lakes with higher priorities (as identified through the decision tree for prioritizing lakes) a discount on the trainings as an incentive. The Council was asked for consensus on these two recommendations. No one voiced any concerns and consensus was reached on the recommendations.

Checking Compliance with Registrations for Large Quantity Groundwater Withdrawals
The Technical Underpinnings work group reviewed recommendations they presented at the April Council meeting. The first recommends an automatic process to flag discrepancies between registered wells and as built wells, while the second recommends that MDEQ work with stakeholders to increase compliance. Prior discussions on this topic indicated that the Department may be negatively perceived if MDEQ staff immediately follow-up with a discrepancy. Dina Klemans asked about alternatives to notify users. Possible options include notifying the registrant electronically as soon as a discrepancy is found and then have staff follow-up later.

Consensus was reached on their first recommendation with one objection from George Carr. He was concerned about implications it may have for well drillers. Consensus was reached for their second recommendation.

Other Business
Bryan Burroughs chaired this portion of the meeting. Robert Whitesides suggested that Council members review a recently released climate change report that had an in-depth section on the Midwest.  Bryan Burroughs also noted that the US Forest Service is undergoing the development of a process to evaluate water withdrawals on its land. Dave Lusch suggested they be invited to the Council.

Public Comment on Non-Agenda Items
Bryan Burroughs asked all meeting attendees to introduce themselves. There was no public comment at this time.

Next Meetings
The next meeting will be held from 1:00-4:00 PM at Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers in St. Johns, Michigan, on June 17, 2014. The July 15 meeting will be held at Hartwick Pines in Grayling, Michigan.