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Groundwater Dispute Resolution Introduction

 The pumping of high-capacity water wells can disrupt the normal operation of nearby residential wells. EGLE and MDARD can help to mediate a groundwater dispute resolution process for the residential well owner.

The pumping of high-capacity wells (rated at 70 gallons per minute, gpm, or greater) can impact nearby small-quantity wells (rated at less than 70 gpm). Problems may result from a decrease in available water and/or by impacting water quality (e.g., drawing brines or other non-potable groundwater into potable aquifers). Part 317, Aquifer Protection and Dispute Resolution, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended, created a groundwater dispute resolution process that is jointly administered by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE).

Complaints involving high-capacity agricultural wells are handled by the MDARD and EGLE handles complaints regarding other high-capacity wells. Dewatering wells (including quarries and gravel mining operations) and fire suppression wells are exempt from Part 317.

Complaints from small-quantity well owners must be accompanied by written documentation from a Michigan registered well driller that the problems with the small-quantity well are not due to equipment failure or well damage. Complaints must be submitted using the Groundwater Dispute Complaint Form and include the Water Supply Assessment Form completed by a Michigan registered well driller.

If EGLE or MDARD aren’t able to resolve the groundwater dispute, the Directors of EGLE or MDARD have the authority to declare a groundwater dispute. The EGLE or MDARD Director then orders the immediate provision of an adequate supply of potable water. The EGLE or MDARD Director can also order restrictions on pumping of the high-capacity well and order the high-capacity well owner to provide timely and reasonable compensation to the impacted small-quantity well owner.