December 16, 2014 Meeting Notes


December 16, 2014 | 1:00 – 4:00 P.M.
Patriot Room, Constitution Hall
525 West Allegan, Lansing, Michigan 48913

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 (TNC); Rich Bowman, (TNC); Gildo Tori, Ducks Unlimited; James Clift, Michigan Environmental Council; Frank Ettawageshik, United Tribes of Michigan; Charles Scott, Michigan Golf Course Owners; Andy Such, Michigan Manufacturers 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); John Yellich*, Michigan Geological Survey; Jon Bartholic*, MSU; Frank Ruswick, MSU; 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; Tammy Newcomb*, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR); Sharon Hanshue, DNR; Margaret Bettenhausen *, Department of Attorney General (DAG); Dan Wyant*, DEQ; Dina Klemans*, DEQ

Members Absent:

Wm. Scott Brown, Michigan Lake and Stream Associations; Michael Stafford, Cranbrook Institute of Science; Tom Frazier, Michigan Townships Association; Steven Rice, Michigan Wetlands Association
Note: Ex-officio members are denoted by an asterisk.

Others Attending

Jim Milne, DEQ; Andy LeBaron, DEQ; Penny Holt, DEQ; Jill VanDyke, DEQ; Leah Clark, DEQ;
Bonnie McGill, MSU, Stephen Gasteyer, MSU; Jennifer Lai, MSU; Shayna Petit MSU; Laura Young, MSU; Grant Trigger, Racer Trust; Larry Walton; Larry Julian, Julian-Vail; Aaron Rice, Prairie River Users Group.

Welcome and Opening Remarks

Wayne Wood opened the meeting. Director Wyant and Jon Allan had to attend a meeting with the Governor, and so the agenda was modified to accommodate their change of schedule.

The Tri-Chairs provided a summary of the Council’s operations and body of work. They noted that it was a tremendous volunteer effort and that a total of 69 recommendations were included in the Council’s report. They also emphasized the diversity of representation on the Council.

Council Recommendations Overview

Each work group presented a brief overview of their work. Highlights from these presentations as well as questions from Director Wyant are highlighted below. Director Wyant noted that the WUAC is an impressive group in addition to their many recommendations. He was encouraged by the Council’s work, especially given the diverse opinions of WUAC members. Following work group presentations, he asked all members to pick their highest priority recommendations. Many recommendations were highlighted, with the following recommendations, among others, receiving more than one vote: continuing the WUAC, developing the statewide groundwater database, developing regional groundwater models, and developing a statewide public education/marketing campaign. The Director noted that the WUP will be one of his priorities over the next four years.

Technical Underpinnings

George Carr delivered the first part of the overview, thanking Dan Wyant for the Council process and Dave Hamilton for his leadership in the workgroup. He indicated that the Michigan Ground Water Association (MGWA) did include a minority position in the report that went through an internal review process with their members. He stated that the members of the MGWA did not feel that the Water Use Program (WUP) currently meets the high standards of other regulatory programs within the Quality of Life agencies. He also noted that the MGWA could not support recommendation TU 2.2 since it posed potential criminal liabilities for well drillers.

Dave Hamilton delivered the second part of the overview, and thanked the workgroup members for their hard work. He noted that they had an ambitious agenda and pointed out that half of the recommended topics for future councils listed in the report are from the TU workgroup. He stated that this has been an innovative process and a future Council would be useful in order to address the topics that were not covered in the recommendations. He reviewed the workgroup’s recommendations and added that implementing these recommendations will likely
increase the Department’s ability to process site-specific reviews (SSRs). In moving forward, regional groundwater models will significantly benefit the WUP.

Director Wyant asked George Carr to clarify what he meant by a “high standard” for the program. George Carr noted several concerns including that the program needs to be more transparent and adhere to the Administrative Procedures Act. The Director asked Dave Hamilton whether the SSR recommendations would create fewer instances of SSRs. Dave Hamilton stated that is a possibility with regional and more detailed modeling, though there would always be a need for the SSR process. It will take both resources and strong leadership to successfully implement these recommendations.

Environmental Monitoring

Bryan Burroughs reviewed the workgroup’s recommendations on streamflow and groundwater data. He noted that the workgroup heard presentations from various experts. Of note, he highlighted the importance of developing a statewide database to house groundwater data and developing protocols and standards for data collection (including data collected by non-agency persons).

Director Wyant asked about building the database. Bryan Burroughs noted that while there are many ways in which the recommendation could be implemented, he saw it as something that would be housed by the State. Bryan added that there are a number of sequential steps that must occur before the database is built.

Water Users

Pat Norris reviewed the three kinds of users groups defined in Part 327 and explained that the workgroup mainly focused on water users committees (WUCs). They strived to identify factors that facilitate or limit the likelihood of success of WUCs. She reviewed three challenges for WUCs: ensuring agreement among WUC members that there is a problem, ensuring all large quantity water users are part of WUC discussions, and understanding what incentives WUC members have when participating in this process. She highlighted WU 1.1, 1.2, and 2.5 as key recommendations from their work group, which deal with establishing processes for bringing noncompliant users into the accounting system and situations in which DEQ should convene WUCs.

Director Wyant asked Pat Norris who would facilitate the water user groups. She indicated that any group of users could form a committee to discuss what they would do in the event of water scarcity. This process in general requires leadership and resources for these groups to succeed. She stated that Extension may be a good group to facilitate, but that DEQ would be the convening body for WUCs in the event of an ARI. DEQ is not recommended as the facilitator due to potential trust issues.

Water Conservation

Frank Ruswick presented an overview of the workgroup’s recommendations, and highlighted the fact that water is the basis for life and deserves respect whether plentiful or scarce. He discussed the work group’s vision for an integrated system of water conservation that is developed collaboratively and that can overcome inertia from the perception of water abundance in the state. The work group found that current data collected on water use and conservation are not helpful for making improvements to the State’s programs. Furthermore, he discussed the need for state-specific goals and objectives on which to base data collection and evaluation efforts.

Director Wyant asked Frank Ruswick for more information about data needs and metrics. Frank Ruswick responded that currently there is a voluntary approach to conservation. He explained that statewide efforts are needed to determine the methods of information dissemination (e.g., public education campaign) and creating consistent messages.

Inland Lakes

Laura Campbell thanked her work group members and reviewed their body of work. She noted this work group formed because the topic was too large to take on in separate work groups. She stated that the amount of data for inland lakes were very small compared to the number of lakes in the state. The group sent surveys, met with experts, and identified existing data on inland lakes and ponds. Their main focus was on direct withdrawals from inland lakes and ponds since the statute does not speak to indirect withdrawals. However, this issue should be
reviewed in the future. One aspect that greatly influenced them was the ability to “crowdsource” inland lake data through citizens using the “CrowdHydrology” platform.

Director Wyant asked Laura Campbell and all members how many of the recommendations would require legislation. The Council noted that most would not require legislation but that statutory changes may need to be contemplated in the future.

Discussion with Dan Wyant—Continuation of the WUAC

Director Wyant anticipates that there will be a Council moving forward but likely will not be engaged as frequently as the last two years. He indicated the directors of the DNR, MDARD, DEQ and OGL will need to review the recommendations and determine how to move forward. members will be informed of the plan and progress as the Departments establish priorities and begin implementing recommendations. The Director thanked the Council for their work.

Jon Allan said the past two years have been remarkable and that this Council’s work represents an elegant body of work. Each recommendation embodies a choice about the State’s future and the Council’s work reflects how we could drive thoughtful and careful water use and conservation. The recommendations are essential in the way Michigan implements the Great Lakes Compact. Jon Allan thanked the Council for their work.

Public Comment

Bonnie McGill, a graduate student at Michigan State University, stated that she supports the continuation of the Council, as well as the recommendations made in the report. She also supports the Michigan Environmental Council’s dissenting opinion that the DEQ request greater financial support for the program. Bonnie expressed concern as to the fact that only one recommendation in the report addressed climate change. She hoped that a continuation of the Council would take a more active role in making recommendations with regards to collaborative efforts to share and promote climate science and adaptation tools.

Grant Trigger serves as the Governor’s designee on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council (Compact Council). The Compact Council met recently and Mr. Trigger shared some observations from their last meeting. In particular, he noted that Compact Council inspires some friendly competition amongst the Great Lakes in their duties to implement the Compact. Other states took notice when Michigan re-established an advisory council for DEQ.

Dina Klemans thanked the Council for all of their work over the past two years and is looking forward to future collaborations.

Frank Ettawageshik asked when the Council’s final report would be released publically. Dina Klemans noted that she would coordinate with the Director’s office and expects it to be posted soon.