May 25, 2017 Meeting Notes

May 25, 2017, Meeting Notes


Michigan Chamber of Commerce
600 South Walnut Street, Lansing, Michigan 48933


Members Present:

Brian Eggers, AKT Peerless (Co-Chair); Bryan Burroughs, Trout Unlimited (Co-Chair); Carl Bednarski, Farm Bureau (FB; Co-Chair); Pat Staskiewicz, American Water Works Association; Dave Hamilton, The Nature Conservancy; Tom Frazier, Michigan Townships Association; Pat Norris, Michigan State University (MSU); Frank Ettawageshik, United Tribes of Michigan; Ben Russell, Southwest Michigan Water Resources Council; David Lusch, MSU; Robert Whitesides, Kalamazoo River Watershed Council (KRWC)*; Tom Stanko, Consumers Energy; Mike Frederick, Michigan Ground Water Association; Sean Hammond (for James Clift), Michigan Environmental Council (MEC)


Alternates Present:

Frank Ruswick, MSU-Institute for Water Research (IWR); Margaret Bettenhausen, Department of Attorney General; Mike Wenkel, Potato Growers of Michigan; Laura Campbell, FB


Ex-officio Members Present:

Dina Klemans, Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)-Water Resources Division (WRD); Tammy Newcomb, Department of Natural Resources (DNR); Jon Bartholic, MSU-IWR; John Yellich, Michigan Geological Survey (MGS); Jon Allan, DEQ-Office of the Great Lakes (OGL); Ralph Haefner, United States Geological Survey (USGS); Laura Doud (for Jim Johnson), Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD)


Others Present:

Maria Claudia Lopez, MSU; Brockton Feltman, MSU; Michael Beaulac, DEQ-OGL; Bonnie McGill, MSU*; Larry Walton, FB; Dan Ganger, Southwest Michigan Farmers for Responsible Water Use; Aaron Rice, Prairie River Water Users Group (PRWUG); Val Vail-Shirey, Julian Vail, PRWUG; Teresa Seidel, DEQ-WRD; Jim Milne, DEQ-WRD; Laura Young, MSU-IWR; Emily Finnell, DEQ-OGL; Christina Pastoria, DEQ-OGL; Rachel Coale, DEQ-OGL; Madeline Gorman, DEQ-OGL; Tom Zimnicki, MEC; Todd Feenstra, Tritium Inc.


Bonnie McGill will be replacing Robert Whitesides as the member representing the KRWC.


Co-chairs Brian Eggers, Carl Bednarski, and Bryan Burroughs welcomed council members and other interested parties, had everyone introduce themselves, and reviewed the meeting agenda.


John Yellich, MGS, requested that MGS materials be added to the program-related news agenda item.


Teresa Seidel, Division Director, DEQ-WRD, was introduced.  She thanked the council for their invitation.


A contact information sheet was passed around, members and other interested parties were asked to update their contact information and to use the sign-in sheet.


Program-Related News:

Jon Allan - The Great Lakes Commission will hold a risk summit on oil transportation on the Great Lakes, via pipelines and other means, in Cleveland in June.

The Council of Great Lakes Governors denied the Great Lakes Cities Initiative’s appeal of the Waukesha diversion approval.  John Dickert, Mayor of Racine, Wisconsin, will be the new leader of the Great Lakes Cities Initiative.

Ralph Haefner - President Trump released his federal budget proposal for fiscal year 2018, which includes drastic budget cuts, 13-16% cut for the USGS nationally.  This will mean a $1‑1.5 million cut in Michigan and Ohio.  This could affect water quality monitoring, stream gaging, data collection, and the National Water Quality Assessment.


John Yellich - MGS received $44,000 from the DEQ for glacial geology mapping in Cass County in 2014-15 for use in 2015-16.  John presented maps of the Jones and Vandalia Quadrangles in Cass County.  The MGS has produced other quadrangle maps in Calhoun and Kalamazoo Counties.  The MGS is currently mapping additional Cass County quadrangles near Dowagiac, Mottville, and Marcellus.


The glacial geology maps are very valuable for determining groundwater resources down to the top of bedrock, which can be up to 400-500 feet in parts of Cass County.  This evaluation of the glacial geologic history identified a greater glacial groundwater resource, by defining the full vertical extent of the geology in this area.  The MGS’ mapping project used passive seismic surveys to map the top of the bedrock surface which included core drilling by MGS and incorporating data from all soil investigation borings, water well logs, and oil/gas well logs to refine the vertical extent of the resource.


Jon Allan suggested, and John Yellich agreed, that MGS could present their glacial geology maps as a Webinar.  The MGS met with the Quality of Life Agencies to provide them with a mapping update.


Bryan Burroughs - A University of Michigan (UM) graduate student interviewed him on water issues.  The UM students could be brought in to give a presentation at a future council meeting.  An MSU grad student working on stream baseflow prediction modeling and precision could also be invited to give a presentation.  Bryan invited others to notify the council leadership of any other relevant research or other presentations for future meetings.


Dina Klemans – The DEQ-Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance Division (DEQ-DWMAD) will be making a decision on Nestle’s permit application for a bottled water large quantity withdrawal (LQW) under Section 17 of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).  The DEQ-WRD is providing technical support to the DEQ-DWMAD.  Nestle applied in July 2016.  The public comment period closed in April 2017.  More than 50,000 public comments have been received.


Nestle is applying to increase the capacity of their White Pine Springs well from 150 gallons per minute (gpm) baseline capacity to 400 gpm.  A new or increased withdrawal over 200,000 gallons per day requires authorization under Section 17 of the SDWA.  Three government-to-government consultations were held with tribes.


In response to questions, it was clarified that the previous court decisions applied to different Nestle wells in Mecosta County.  The time frame for a decision on the SDWA permit is unknown.  There are a lot of details to the application.  There is no statutory deadline for making a decision, but the DEQ is working quickly.  This is the first bottled water LQW permit application received under Section 17 of the SDWA.


Public Comment on Agenda Items:  None


Update on Implementing Water Use Advisory Council (WUAC) Recommendations:

Tammy Newcomb – The DNR is the keeper of the process for stream classification under the statute.  The DNR is working on ways to have a transparent process for making changes to stream classifications.  Michigan has 32,000‑40,000 miles of rivers and streams so the job is big and complex.


Dr. Dan Hayes, MSU, and MSU grad students working on this process developed a database and statistical model to help with calculations called the Stream Check Tool.  The Stream Check Tool is currently in beta testing after meetings with the Quality of Life Agencies.  The Stream Check Tool includes temperature, climate data, fish assemblages, and stream flow data.


Data and a rationale for changing the stream classification would be initiated by, or submitted to, the DNR.  The DNR is working on a process to receive and process requests.  Requests will be reviewed by an inter-departmental team, which independently runs the data through the Stream Check Tool.  The team will come to a consensus on whether the data and model support changing the stream classification.  Proposals that are approved by the team will go to the Technical Underpinnings Work Group, then to the full WUAC, and then to Quality of Life Directors.  The Natural Resources Commission’s meetings will be the venue for public comment on the proposals.


A minimum of 2-3 years’ worth of data is required.  There is no processing fee.  Large scale changes of stream classifications are not anticipated.


Dave Hamilton suggested that the membership of the Technical Underpinnings Work Group should be reviewed.  Dina Klemans stated that the membership of all the work groups should be reviewed.  The DEQ will send out an e-mail asking for updated work group preferences.


For streams with multiple classifications, requests would be handled per each stream reach but the review will look at the up and downstream reaches for consistency.  It is anticipated that the requestor will collect and pay for the data submitted with the request.  Frank Ettawageshik asked if the process will provide for requestors who do not have a lot of resources.  The work group will discuss this and other questions.


Dina Klemans reported on the DEQ’s implementation projects – the MGS is leading the Cass County mapping project (see John Yellich’s update above).  Todd Feenstra will report on the Cass County Pilot Project.


Funding continues for USGS stream gages and miscellaneous stream flow measurements in southwest and south central Michigan.  The DEQ is contributing funding for a USGS study of stream flow and surface water/groundwater interactions on the Prairie River.  The DEQ and USGS are still working on landowner permissions and site access.


An information sheet and application were distributed for the DEQ-WRD’s Unreported LQW Initiative.  This initiative seeks to identify unreported LQWs that were operating prior to October 1, 2008 (the date of the Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool’s initial stream index flow estimates).  The initiative ends on April 1, 2018.  DEQ staff participated in nine different outreach events hosted by MSU Extension, Michiana Irrigators, and the Michigan Environmental Health Association.  A stakeholder focus group provided input on the information sheet and application.  To date, the DEQ received five applications; four of which were approved and the fifth is under review.


A question was asked about the ability of DEQ and MDARD staff to coordinate water use reporting data since the two agencies use different databases.  DEQ and MDARD staff work closely together and MDARD water use reporting data is available to DEQ staff in a timely manner.  Questions should be directed to either Jim Milne or Abby Eaton.


In response to questions, Jim Milne indicated that no clear trends have emerged about why people did not report their water use by the statutory deadline of April 1, 2009.  Some applicants are trying to clear up old record keeping issues due to changes of ownership or family inheritances.  Water use for the same LQW pumps (and/or their replacement pumps) being reported under different names is a complicating factor.  Reluctance of property owners to get involved with the government may be a factor.  The increasing number of site-specific reviews in depleted water management areas may prompt property owners to reexamine their water use records.


Mike Frederick commented that when fields are leased there is a lot of uncertainty whether the water use reporting should be done by the property owner or the lessee.  If the leases are not consistent from year to year, that complicates matters.  The importance of sharing water use reporting data with property owners and lessees was emphasized.


Frank Ettawageshik asked if flowing artesian wells qualify as LQWs under this initiative if the flow rate is greater than 70 gpm.  The answer depends on how the water flows from the well and how the water is captured.


The assistance of WUAC members with getting the word out about the Unreported LQW Initiative is appreciated.


A pilot project for volunteer stream flow monitoring was conducted through the Michigan Clean Water Corps.  A procedure for volunteer stream flow monitoring was developed.  Two grants were awarded last year.  The project worked well; volunteers were able to use the procedure and the equipment.  But there was limited interest.  A lot more funding is needed to attract the interest of volunteer groups.  The areas that most volunteer groups are interested in are not high priority areas for the DEQ in terms of water use demand.  The DEQ did not offer any grants this year but may offer grants again when more resources are available.  Dina will send out a link to the procedure.


Jon Allan - Approximately 23 of the 69 recommendations in the WUAC’s final report dealt with water conservation.  Those recommendations were incorporated into the Water Strategy.  The DEQ-OGL has a Glassen Scholar from MSU working for 15 weeks on the water conservation recommendations, reviewing the voluntary water conservation measures, and updating the water conservation report submitted pursuant to the Great Lakes Compact.  The list of those interested in working on the Water Conservation Work Group needs to be updated.


Todd Feenstra - Thirty monitor wells were installed as of June 1, 2017, including six vertically nested monitor wells.  Mud rotary drilling was used to install the deep vertically nested wells and split spoon samples were collected from the shallow vertically nested wells.  Geophysical logging was conducted in the boreholes.  Grain size analyses were also conducted.  Core samples were submitted to the MGS repository.


Aquifer performance tests will be conducted at irrigation wells with water level elevation data collected from the nearby monitor wells.  Sixteen stream flow velocity profiles were conducted comparing the Global Flow Tracker and Pygmy flow meters.  Comparisons with adjacent USGS stream gages found that Tritium’s measurements were within 1% of the USGS’ gage readings.  Fifteen to 20 streambed conductivity (the ease of water migrating through the streambed sediments between the stream and the underlying groundwater) will be conducted.


The DEQ received 350,000 groundwater elevation data points.  The data collection frequency will be increased from 1 minute to 30 seconds during the irrigation season.  That will result in 3,000,000 data points being collected each month.  Fifty geological cross-sections will be drawn with cross-sections across water management areas.  Three different transducers are being installed in the same monitor well to compare the transducers for cost, ease of use, and accuracy.


Utility Water Conservation:

Tom Stanko - Consumers Energy set a water stewardship goal in response to many business and social drivers.  Consumers’ shared values are policies and practices that are both good for business and good for the community.  There is also a business advantage in using less water.  Consumers gains social capital from its reputation actions, including innovations in the utility industry, building trust, and engagement.  Consumers is investor owned.  Shareholders want social responsibility:  people, planet, and profit.  Consumers wants to be transparent in its business dealings.


Consumers supplies electricity to most of the Lower Peninsula and gas to most of the southern and eastern portions of Michigan.  Its power supply sources are:  34% natural gas, 24% coal, 10% oil, 8% nuclear, and the rest from pumped storage, and other sources.


In 2012, Consumers Energy set water use reduction targets of 17% by 2017 and 20% by 2020.  Water use was down 17% by 2016, as measured in gallons per megawatt hour.  Consumers closed 3 power plants and will be closing 7 coal units.  The coal units are the primary water users, and are once-through facilities that use more water per megawatt of power.  Gas plants store water in towers and reuse the water for greater efficiency.


They do not have any direct measurement of consumptive water use.  Consumers gauges where they use water the most, regardless of whether the water is returned or lost to evaporation or other causes.  Consumers seeks reductions wherever they use water the most.


Consumers also looks at protecting fish at its surface water intakes.  Reducing water intakes makes fish protection cheaper through the reduction of the number of pumps that have to be run during off season and peak times, especially in the “shoulder months,” the first and last months of summer when more efficiencies and storage might prevent a pump from having to be turned on.  Adjusting shut down procedures can save a lot of water.  Shorter times to continue running water pumps can still achieve water cooling goals.


Consumers now looks at environmental stewardship and water conservation when it is planning projects.  This was never done before.  Consumers just had its lowest injury rate year ever.  It received an award as a veteran-friendly employer.  Stakeholder engagement and employee volunteering rates are increasing.


Agricultural Irrigation Conservation:

Larry Walton - Three examples of irrigation spray nozzles were passed around to demonstrate the improvements in irrigation equipment over time.  The pressure required by the irrigation heads has decreased.  The soil type is important for water infiltration and the droplet size needed.  Power costs drive decisions made by irrigators.  Less water use requires less power and saves money.


Larry now has a water use application on his cell phone and tablet.  He can remotely turn his irrigation equipment on and off.  He can be alerted if the irrigation equipment is damaged or has other problems.  He can get rainfall reports for each of his fields to allow for precision irrigation planning.  He can get aerial imagery with thermal images of his fields.  Thermal imagery helps determine the uniformity of irrigation.  It demonstrates where irrigation needs to be adjusted due to soil type and the direction, speed, and efficiency of the irrigation equipment.  He uses weather station data for evapotranspiration.  Some farmers use soil moisture meters but they have limitations.  Different soil types affect the readings and the meters may not respond properly to crop types.  Multiple soil moisture probes would be necessary to provide adequate coverage of his fields.  He does not measure flow in his drainage tiles.  Gated drainage tiles are another option for water conservation.


USGS Groundwater Monitoring Network and Citizen Science:

Ralph Haefner - The National Groundwater Monitoring Network is operated by the USGS.  Some states have a very high density of networks but Michigan does not.  Michigan’s existing network is mainly centered on Kalamazoo, Detroit, and Lansing.  To coordinate with the state’s Water Strategy and the WUAC’s recommendations, groundwater mapping needs to be conducted.


The USGS proposes to develop a network of wells in Michigan with 4 tasks:  evaluation of the old wells in the network; field evaluation of old and new wells; network implementation, by adding 10 wells per year; and continue operation and maintenance of the network.  USGS is proposing $250,000 for the first year to get the project up and running, including siting wells.  Subsequent years will cost $225,000 per year with a 5% increase per year with increasing wells.  If this project cannot be funded, the USGS could run a pilot project asking for private citizens to monitor the water levels in their wells.  Protocols, calibrated tapes, and data forms would be provided by the USGS. 


Groundwater elevation data would be available online on the USGS’ Web site.  Products could also include annual water level reports, water quality data, and borehole geophysical surveys.  Hydrographs of wells and statewide water level maps are other products.  Water levels could be compared to long-term trends.


Ralph asked the council if they supported the proposal.  Dave Hamilton noted that local health departments may oppose having citizens open their own wells due to contamination concerns.  Equipment could be used that would not require opening the wells (at least not very often).  Some equipment has mobile capability.  Dina Klemans asked how the strategy in well placement would affect the value of the information.  It depends on the priorities set in the plan.  This would not be an open sign-up opportunity.  The USGS would be looking for specific locations and conditions and then seek volunteers that meet those parameters.  John Yellich asked if there is an opportunity to look at existing industrial or landfill background monitoring wells, which have been monitoring uncontaminated background water conditions in many geologic terrains for 20 to 30 years.  This is currently being done on a quarterly or annual basis by landfill operators by qualified consultants and is submitted to the DEQ Waste Management and Radiological Protection Division.  Most landfill sites were placed in uncontaminated areas, but all the data are available and need to be assessed.  Ralph said no, the USGS is interested in staying away from contaminated areas.


Other Business:

Ralph Haefner – The USGS is meeting with MSU-IWR about establishing a water quality information network.  To coordinate existing water quality monitoring efforts around the state, the USGS could meet with other groups conducting water quality monitoring.  Is there an opportunity to incorporate this into existing groups?  Tabled for consideration.


Jon Allan - The President’s proposed federal budget would eliminate all IWR and Sea Grant at universities.


Public Comment on Non-Agenda Items:  None


Next Meeting:

Dina will work on setting a meeting date approximately six months from now.  If anyone has any ideas of when they would or would not like to meet, contact Dina.


Last Items:

Frank Ruswick asked how the discussion about updating the work groups’ memberships will be addressed.  Dina said that the DEQ will send out a message to members to update their work group memberships.


The meeting was adjourned at 3:50 p.m.